Sam Bennett will leave the Deceuninck-QuickStep team at the end of the 2021 season, team manager Patrick Lefevere has revealed, as the Belgian team prepares to change its lead sprinter yet again apparently after opting not to match significant offers from rivals teams.
According to well-informed La Gazzetta dello Sport journalist Ciro Scognamiglio, Bennett could return to Bora-Hansgrohe, where he raced between 2014-2019. The Irishman would fill the sprinter’s slot of Pascal Ackermann, who could in turn, move to UAE Team Emirates. Peter Sagan is widely expected to leave Bora-Hansgrohe and has been linked to Deceuninck-QuickStep, but the loss of Bennett could leave the team without a big-name pure sprinter.
Sprinter Álvaro Hodeg is out of contract this season and was not selected for the Giro d’Italia. It is unclear if Mark Cavendish will race with Deceuninck-QuickStep in 2022, while Fabio Jakobsen has only just made his racing return after his terrible crash at last year’s Tour de Pologne. It is not known if Lefevere has agreed terms with another sprinter for 2022 to replace Bennett .
Under UCI rules riders and teams are not allowed to announce new signings until August 1. However, Lefevere has kicked off the transfer season by revealing that Bennett will leave Deceuninck-QuickStep. Lefevere has already said that João Almeida will also leave despite the Portuguese rider co-leading the team at the Giro d’Italia.
“He (Bennett) doesn't want to leave, but I don't have as much money as certain other people," Lefevere told the Belgian media, including Het Laatste Nieuws at the start of stage 2 of the Giro d’Italia in Stupinigi.
“Whether it is purely a matter of money? You should ask his agent."
Lefevere’s comments could be part of his negotiating strategy but he claimed there was no way back from his decision.
“At a certain point I can no longer be convinced, then I press the button. The fact that these types of riders leave is life. As pros they have to earn as much money as possible. But look at the sprinters who left us. Some riders return to our team on foot.”
30-year-old Bennett joined Deceuninck-QuickStep in 2019 and has won 14 races, including two stages at the 2020 Tour de France and the green points jersey. On Friday he won a second stage at the Volta ao Algarve and is expected to be part of Deceuninck-QuickStep’s team for the Tour de France.
There was no immediate reaction from Bennett or his agent.
On Saturday, Lefevere confirmed in his weekly Het Nieuwsblad article that Almeida, a brekathrough star of last year's Giro, would be leaving the team. He said that he would be happy to win the race with either of his leaders, but noted that the contract situations are very different.
"Nobody should believe me, but I really don't care whether I win the Giro with a Belgian or a Portuguese. Anyone who knows me knows that the jersey of the team is important to me, not the flag or the country.
"The contract situation is also very different: Remco Evenepoel has signed for five years, João Almeida will leave our team next year. His manager has shown relatively little respect in the negotiations."
Last month, Evenepoel signed a five-year deal to stay with the squad, with the announcement later followed by the news that world champion Julian Alaphilippe and Tour of Flanders champion Kasper Asgreen had both renewed for three years.
Bennett is currently racing at the rescheduled Volta ao Algarve, where he has taken wins on both sprint stages after four days of racing.
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