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Sam Bennett linked with move to Ineos Grenadiers

TAVIRA PORTUGAL MAY 07 Sam Bennett of Ireland and Team Deceuninck QuickStep Green Points Jersey celebrates at arrival ahead of Danny Van Poppel of Netherlands and Team Intermarch Wanty Gobert Matriaux during the 47th Volta Ao Algarve 2021 Stage 3 a 2031km stage from Faro to Tavira VoltAlgarve VAlgarve2021 on May 07 2021 in Tavira Portugal Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images
(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Bora-Hansgrohe have, so far, been touted as the frontrunners to secure the signature of Irish sprinter Sam Bennett when his Deceuninck-QuickStep contract expires at the end of the season. However, a new team has entered the race for the reigning Tour de France green jersey in the form of Ineos Grenadiers.

After two seasons at his current team, Bennett will be moving elsewhere for the 2022 season, with a return to Bora as possible replacement for Pascal Ackermann on the cards, but a report from Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad has suggested that British squad Ineos could be in for the Irishman.

Ineos Grenadiers have lacked a top-level sprinter since the departure of Elia Viviani back in 2017, preferring to focus on their stage racing core but they appear to be interested in bringing the 30-year-old on board next season.

The presence of coach Kurt Bogaerts, who joined the team in February, is thought to be an attraction for Bennett. The Belgian – who has in recent years worked with Ineos neo-pro Tom Pidcock at Trinity Racing – is close friends with Bennett and was co-manager of the AnPost-ChainReaction squad which Bennett raced for from 2011 to 2013.

After Deceuninck-QuickStep manager Patrick Lefevere revealed that Bennett would be leaving the team back in early May, La Gazzetta dello Sport journalist Ciro Scognamiglio reported that Bora-Hansgrohe would be the front-runners to sign him, following his spell at the team between 2014 and 2019.

His messy exit from the team could complicate matters though, with a legal battle ensuing when he fought to leave the German team after missing out on selection for both the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France in 2019.

The case, which surrounded Bennett having signed a letter of intent to re-sign with the team in May, was later sent to a UCI arbitration panel before Bora relented, freeing him to move to Deceuninck-QuickStep.

The Het Nieuwsblad report suggests, however, that Bora-Hansgrohe have signed up Bennett's friend and compatriot Ryan Mullen in an attempt to woo him back after two seasons away.

Deceuninck-QuickStep are not thought to be shopping around for a big-name sprint replacement for Bennett, with Lefevere instead placing his trust in Dutchman Fabio Jakobsen for 2022.

Last week, the veteran team boss dismissed suggestions that Peter Sagan could be on his way to the team, citing the Slovak's 11-person entourage as the main reason in choosing against a move.