Sam Bennett strongly hints at switching teams after Dauphine stage win

Sam Bennett gave the clearest indication yet that his future will lie away from Bora-Hansgrohe after winning stage 3 of the Criterium du Dauphine with an unstoppable sprint into Rion.

The Irish rider is out of contract at the end of this season and was left off the Bora roster for the Giro d’Italia despite winning three stages last year. Bennett was keen to return to the Corsa Rosa but was passed over for Pascal Ackermann, who won two stages and claimed the points jersey. Bennett is also set to miss out on a Tour de France spot this July, although he will race the Vuelta a Espana in August.

After winning in Riom and taking his victory tally to seven on the year, Bennett stated that he had received offers from several teams. He was asked directly by Cyclingnews as to what his future held and about his chances of re-signing with his current team. Although he did not rule out a contract extension, his answer was telling nonetheless.

“For next year I’m just talking to teams and trying to find teams that can best support me and give me the race programme that I’m looking for,” he said.

“I want to grow as a rider, and I think there are a few offers on the table. I want to be able to show myself, and I don’t want to be stuck behind any other riders. It’s a tough decision, but there are a few options. Time is ticking, of course, but I just need to see. I’m not getting any younger, and I feel like I’m coming into my best years and it’s important that the doors are open.”

The French publication L’Equipe opened a line of questioning with a similar theme during the press conference, asking Bennett if his victory in the Dauphine was in anyway a response after being left at home for the Giro and the upcoming Tour de France.

“I just try and go to each stage race and get a result,” he responded, before pointing to his continued consistency at the WorldTour level.

“I want to try and get at least one win in each stage race, and so far the only one I’ve not done that in is Romandie. I want to continue my winning pattern and wanted at least one stage win. I know that I won't get the Tour de France spot this year, but this is a good race to find my legs again before building up towards the Vuelta.”

Bennett’s press conference may have shifted towards expected areas of interest, but it only took place because he took a highly impressive win ahead of Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and Davide Ballerini. The Bora sprinter hit the front early but was never troubled by his rivals, showing them a clean pair of wheels.

“It didn’t feel easy coming up to the line. It was chaotic in the final, and I found it stressful looking for the point of reference for the sprint. When there’s a full train there you can judge your position and go from there. I had to have a feel for it myself, but I played it cool and asked the guys to hold back and wait. I wanted to come from behind with more speed and the guys did a fantastic job. I still found it stressful with some of the GC teams and some of the other sprinters. It was pretty hard. I was a bit worried I went too early but I had great legs and great power.”

With great power comes great responsibility. And a fresh challenge it seems.

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