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Sam Bennett signs with Deceuninck-QuickStep

Sam Bennett tests out his new kit
Sam Bennett
(Image credit: Bora-hansgrohe / VeloImages)

Sam Bennett will ride for Deceuninck-QuickStep in 2020 and 2021, with the Belgian team announcing the arrival of the Irish sprinter on Tuesday following his contract dispute with Bora-Hansgrohe.

Having provisionally agreed to extend with the German team, Bennett met resistance when he tried to trigger a transfer this summer, but was eventually cleared to move on last month.

That paved the way for Deceuninck-QuickStep to finalise the signing of the 29-year-old sprinter, who won 13 races in 2019. 

Shane Archbold, Bennett’s lead-out man at Bora, follows him across on a two-year deal.

"I am delighted to get to sign with Deceuninck-QuickStep, the team I had a poster of on my wall when I was a kid," Bennett said in a statement from the team.

"I remember going to a race with An Post and seeing Quick-Step at races and I was intimidated by such a big team. I never thought I would be good enough to sign for them, so be able to say that I am riding for them is a dream come true and I can’t wait to get to work with the guys and starting working and racing with them. It is a daunting task to race for this team, but it is motivating and a challenge, having been with my previous team for so long and I feel refreshed."

Even with the likes of Fabio Jakobsen and Alvaro Hodeg on the roster, Deceuncinck-QuickStep were on the look-out for a lead sprinter given Elia Viviani’s departure to Cofidis in 2020. Bennett won two stages of this year’s Vuelta a España, having voiced his frustration at not being able to ride the Giro d’Italia or Tour de France given the presence of Pascal Ackermann and Peter Sagan in the Bora-Hansgrohe hierarchy.

Interest in the move was strong on both sides, but there was a considerable obstacle in the form of a ‘letter of intent’ reportedly signed by Bennett with a view to staying with Bora. The case was sent to a UCI arbitration panel, during which time QuickStep boss Patrick Lefevere claims Bora offered and exchange for Hodeg. In early November, however, the German team announced they were letting Bennett go.

"The protracted nature of Sam’s move has been well documented but I am delighted to have him on board," said Lefevere.

"His palmares alone speaks volumes about his talent and determination, but he is also a great character and another leader to have around the team. We all cannot wait to start working with him."

Having started his career at the AnPost team, Bennett turned professional with Bora-Hansgrohe – then NetApp-Endura – in 2014, and has become one of the best sprinters in the world over the past couple of years. In 2017 he claimed his first WorldTour-level victory at Paris-Nce, and in 2018 he won his first Grand Tour stages, with three at the Giro d’Italia. Despite not being able to ride the Giro or Tour, Bennett has kicked on again in 2019, with 13 wins, 11 of which were at WorldTour level.

In Archbold, he has a long-standing colleague and friend by his side. The 30-year-old New Zealander also rode for An Post before joining Bora in 2015. He left after three seasons and, after being part of the Aqua Blue Sport fall-out, rejoined Bora in April this year.

"It’s fantastic to be having Shane here too. I am delighted for him as he had a few years where he wasn’t getting opportunities, so for us to both be here is special," Bennett said. "To have a friend and a work colleague with him, it makes the job easier too."

The lead-out was a department that needed strengthening at Deceuninck-QuickStep. Although Michael Morkov is staying, Fabio Sabatini is following Viviani to Cofidis and Max Richeze is joining Fernando Gaviria at UAE Team Emirates.

"We know how important it is for a sprinter to have a lead-out man that he fully understands and has faith in. While we have several excellent lead-out guys already here, when it became clear that we could add Shane to our squad to help Sam, it made complete sense," said Lefevere. "He is extremely skillful at what he does and is rightly regarded as one of the best in the world."

Bennett and Archbold are Deceuninck-QuickStep’s final signings of the transfer window, closing the 2020 roster on 27 riders.

Deceuninck-QuickStep’s transfer activity

In: Bert Van Lerberghe (Cofidis), Stijn Steels (Roompot-Charles), Andrea Bagioli (Colpack), Mattia Cattaneo (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec), Davide Ballerini (Astana), Joao Almeida (Hagens Berman Axeon), Mauri Vansevenant (EFC-L&R-Vulsteke), Jannik Steimle (Vorarlberg), Ian Garrison (Hagens Berman Axeon), Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe), Shane Archbold (Bora-Hansgrohe)

Out: Elia Viviani (Cofidis), Fabio Sabatini (Cofidis), Enric Mas (Movistar), Davide Martinelli (Astana), Maximiliano Richeze (UAE Team Emirates), Philippe Gilbert (Lotto Soudal), Eros Capecchi (Bahrain-Merida)

Extended: Julian Alaphilippe (2021), Kasper Asgreen (2021), Zdenek Štybar (2021), Michael Mørkøv (2021), James Knox (2021), Iljo Keisse (2020), Pieter Serry (2021), Remco Evenepoel (2023)