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Tiesj Benoot set to break contract and leave Team DSM

Tiesj Benoot at the Team DSM team car
Tiesj Benoot at the Team DSM team car (Image credit: Getty Images)

Tiesj Benoot appears to be the latest rider looking to leave Team DSM while still under contract, with Dutch-language website Wielerflits reporting the Belgian Classics rider and Team DSM are in talks on finalising Benoot’s early release. 

Team DSM opted not to respond when contacted by Cyclingnews, while Wielerflits has reported that Benoot is looking for another team.   

Last summer, Benoot extended his contract with Team DSM until the end of 2022 and he was a team leader in the Ardennes Classics. He claimed he was happy at the German-registered team but according to Wielerflits “an irreparable rift has developed in recent weeks, with several sources saying the rider and ther team are working on a separation."

Benoot appears set to join a growing list of riders who have opted to leave Team DSM before the end of their contracts, often citing the strict protocols and internal rules the team runs on. In recent years Marcel Kittel, Warren Barguil, Tom Dumoulin, Michael Matthews and Marc Hirschi have left the team mid-contract. 

Team DSM enjoyed a successful season in 2020, winning three stages at the Tour de France and finishing second and third overall at the Giro d’Italia with Jai Hindley and Wilco Kelderman.  

The team signed Romain Bardet for 2021 and DSM was a sudden replacement title sponsor after the Sunweb holiday company was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Bardet finished seventh overall at the Giro d’Italia and the team won stages at the Vuelta a España but ended the 2021 season with just eight victories. 

John Degenkolb will return to the team in 2021, while Bardet remains a team leader alongside Søren Kragh Andersen. New signings include U23 European champion Jonas Iversby Hvideberg and Frederik Rodenberg from the Uno-X team. 

The USA's Chad Haga confirmed at the weekend that he will leave at the end of the year. Haga is the seventh rider confirmed to be leaving DSM during this off-season. While Nicolas Roche retires, Hindley heads to Bora-Hansgrohe, Storer to Groupama-FDJ, Jasha Sütterlin to Bahrain Victorious, Max Kanter to Movistar, and Felix Gall to AG2R Citroën.

Marc Reef has recently quit as a directeur sportif to join rivals Jumbo-Visma, while former professional riders Pim Ligthart and Marcel Sieberg will join the coaching staff in 2022.

Team DSM manager Iwan Spekenbrink has always defended his team’s way of working without revealing exactly what the team demands from its riders. Some of those who leave have complained about strict discipline on changes to equipment choices and even bike positions and the need to complete pre-race homework.    

“There will always be internal friction as we coach our riders to make them better. Not everyone always agrees right away," head coach Rudi Kemna told Wielerflits in a rare interview about the team this summer. 

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