With much of the 2020 race calendar looking to be a write-off due to the shutdown of events and social isolation, this season will no doubt be one that most riders will be hoping to salvage what they can from, and move on. For Sam Bennett, the brief taster of the possibilities that the 2020 season could have had in store was a mixed bag.
The Irish road race champion joined Deceuninck-QuickStep at the start of the year from Bora-Hansgrohe, brought in as a sprinter for a team that has seen a lot of previous success from some of the most accomplished finishers in the sport.
We have already featured Bennett's ultra-stiff Specialized Allez Sprint Disc, which he rode at the Schwalbe Classic criterium at the start of the year in Australia. The fast, wet course made it difficult for the Deceuninck-QuickStep team to set up a lead-out train for Bennett in the way that they'd wanted, and he was left short of the result he was looking for, finishing in a disappointing 16th place. However, he soon made up for it with a stage win on Stage 1 of the Tour Down Under just two days later.
Another win at the Race Torquay, and a UAE Tour battle with Lotto Soudal's Caleb Ewan, proved that Bennett's season was well on track, but the UAE Tour was abruptly cut short, marking the beginning of the 2020 season's current coronavirus-caused hiatus.
Bennett's final act of the season thus far is one he'd rather forget. He earned himself an 800 CHF fine for shouldering Nairo Quintana, before being tangled up in a crash with Israel Start-Up Nation's Hugo Hofstetter.
Bennett's bike is largely similar to his friend and lead-out man Shane Archbold's Venge, which we featured recently. However, there are a few minor differences of note, such as Bennett opting to use the old version of Specialized's Aerofly handlebar, rather than the newer Aerofly II.
Bennett was also one of a few riders at the Tour Down Under trialling tubeless road tyres, and was running Specialized's Turbo RapidAir tyres in 26c width for training rides and the opening criterium. However, he subsequently returned to the tried-and-tested tubular tyres for racing proper.
Eagle-eyed viewers might have noticed Specialized has added a few new sets of wheels to the UCI's list of approved wheels, including a new 51mm-deep Rapide CLX, and a 33mm-deep Alpinist CLX. They're yet to make a competitive appearance, though, and Bennett is using the well-revered CLX50 road wheels.
Sam Bennett's Specialized S-Works Venge full bike specifications
Frameset: Specialized S-Works Venge
Front brake: Shimano Dura-Ace R9170 Hydraulic Disc caliper
Rear brake: Shimano Dura-Ace R9170 Hydraulic Disc caliper
Brake/shift levers: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 R9170 Hydraulic Disc Dual Control Lever
Front derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 R9150
Rear derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 R9150
Cassette: Shimano Dura-Ace, 11-30T
Chain: Shimano Dura-Ace
Crankset: Shimano Dura-Ace R9100-P w/ Dual-sided power, 53/39T
Bottom bracket: CeramicSpeed
Wheelset: Roval CLX 50 Disc tubeless
Tyres: S-Works Turbo RapidAir 26mm
Handlebars: S-Works Aerofly, 42cm
Handlebar tape: Supa-Caz Super Sticky Kush Classic
Stem: S-Works Venge stem, 130mm
Pedals: Shimano Dura-Ace PD-R9100
Saddle: Specialized Power Expert Ti Rails
Seat post: Specialized Venge
Bottle cages: Tacx Deva
Computer: Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt
Rider height: 1.78m
Saddle height: 735mm
Saddle nose to handlebars: 580mm