Sam Bennett accepts supporting role in Milan-San Remo race

Paris-Nice stage winner pledges to assist German Bora-hansgrohe team-mate Peter Sagan

Ireland’s Sam Bennett: “I stopped early on the final stage into Nice on Sunday to begin my recovery for Milan San Remo.” Photograph: AFP Photo

Ireland’s Sam Bennett: “I stopped early on the final stage into Nice on Sunday to begin my recovery for Milan San Remo.” Photograph: AFP Photo

 

Although he raced to a career-best result recently when he took a stage in Paris-Nice, Sam Bennett has accepted team requirements that he back world champion Peter Sagan in Saturday’s Milan-San Remo and has pledged complete support.

Following Sagan’s move over the winter, both are now team-mates on the German Bora-hansgrohe squad. Sagan is regarded as one of the favourites in Saturday’s Classic. Despite not finishing Paris-Nice, Bennett believes he is in the shape to help him win.

“I stopped early on the final stage into Nice on Sunday to begin my recovery for Milan San Remo,” he said on Thursday. “I was feeling the beginnings of illness so I spent this week trying to recover as best I could. I still have the sniffles but I feel I’m almost recovered.

“Paris-Nice was an immensely tough week so, to have survived as well as I did, I feel that, in theory, I should be flying this weekend. My team altitude camp has really brought me to another level.”

Even if others might be tempted to try to play their own card, he understands the team’s requirements. He also sees the bigger picture, knowing that he will get his own chances during the season.

“At Milan-San Remo, I’m giving 100% for Peter. A win for Bora-hansgrohe on the Via Roma would be amazing. The goal, for me, is to get over the final climbs and be there at the finish.

“I’m hoping I can contribute as best I can in the final 500m, I believe no one can come around Peter at the finish. I look forward to the race as it could be a very special day for Bora-hansgrohe.”

Pressure lifted

“A WorldTour win has been a goal of mine for the last number of years and it always felt out of reach. I waited a long time for my day to come along. On the day, everything came together. The fact that my first WorldTour win was at Paris-Nice made the victory even sweeter. It was a very special moment for me in my career.”

Compatriot Dan Martin was a superb third overall and also exited the race with strong morale. He is not due to ride Milan-San Remo.

In other news, three Irish riders will be in action for the An Post Chainreaction team in the days ahead. On Friday Sean McKenna and Conor Hennebry will compete in the 1.1-ranked Handzame Classic in Belgium. McKenna and Matthew Teggart will then compete in the six-day Tour de Normandie, which begins in France on Monday.

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