After two years at Deceuninck-QuickStep, Sam Bennett has rejoined Bora-Hansroghe on a new, multiple-year contract. The Irishman leaves Deceuninck-QuickStep after two successful years that included two stages and the green jersey at the Tour de France, but he also leaves the Belgian squad after a very public and acrimonious split with team boss Patrick Lefevere.
Bennett rode for Bora-Hansgrohe between 2014 and 2019, and he rose through their ranks to become one of the best sprinters in the world. When his chances of riding the Tour de France and Giro d'Italia in 2019 were seemingly blocked by the paths of Peter Sagan and Pascal Ackermann, however, the Irishman decided to move. That transfer also proved difficult when Bora claimed that Bennett had initially agreed to sign a letter of intent to stay for 2020, but he was eventually free to leave and spent two years at Deceuninck-QuickStep.
With Sagan, Ackermann and their respective leadouts heading for new teams in 2022, the path for Bennett to return to the team became clear and he will bring his own new leadout with him. Shane Archbold arrives with Bennett from Deceuninck-QuickStep, while Ryan Mullen heads over from Trek-Segafredo and Danny van Poppel joins from Intermarche Wanty - Gobert Matériaux.
Bennett, 30, will seemingly have far greater freedom upon his return to Bora-Hansgrohe with both a dedicated leadout and little in the way of sprint competition at major races like the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France. He has won stages in all three of Grand Tours, five stages in Paris-Nice, and almost 60 wins in his career to date.
“I am very excited about returning to Bora–Hansgrohe. I had six incredible years with this team and I really feel like I grew up as a pro rider during this period," Bennett said in a press release.
"It was a really difficult decision to leave, but I decided I needed to continue my professional and personal development in a new environment. While some may have questioned my decision at the time, I believe it is the right move for me to return to Bora - Hansgrohe. I have enjoyed two great years at Deceuninck - Quick-Step, my boyhood dream team, and have continued my development both on and off the bike whilst making lifelong friendships.
"However, I feel ready to go back home to be the team leader that I want to be, and know Bora - Hansgrohe also wants me to be. I know the team will have a slightly different roster than when I left, but the core group of people who are responsible for the team’s successful environment remains. I am ready to embrace the role of a team leader, to help drive the team forward so we can win together."
Team manager Ralph Denk was delighted with bringing Bennett back to the team after two years away.
"I'm very pleased that Sam is returning to us. We've been together for several years, he turned pro with us and we developed him into one of the best sprinters in the peloton," the German said.
" It's no secret that his departure hurt us a lot at the time. However, I can understand that he felt that step was important for his career. I’d say that only worked out partially. We are a team that places a lot of value on cohesion, respect and sustainable cooperation, as we believe that these are the foundations for long-term success. You can have disagreements sometimes. However, as long as you treat each other with respect, you will always find each other again. That was also the case here. We have clear goals with Sam and I am confident that with our support he will be able to achieve several victories over the coming years. He is undisputedly one of the very best sprinters in the world and has proven this by winning the green jersey at the 2020 Tour."
Denk's words were backed up by the fact that the team signed three new riders in Van Poppel, Mullen and Archbold in order to build a leadout train around Bennett.
"We have also put together a strong sprint train for him. Danny in particular will play a pivotal role. As a sprinter, he has both the experience and the speed to place and impose himself accordingly in fast finishes. Even though the role is new to him, I have every confidence in him. Shane has also been with us for many years, so we know his strengths. And Ryan has the fast pace necessary to keep the other guys in position ahead of the final kilometre. I think we are very well positioned with these new signings."
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