Sam Bennett back in action for pro team as tension continues

Carrick-on-Suir rider last competed for Deceuninck-QuickStep in Portugal in May

Sam Bennett returned to racing with his Deceuninck-QuickStep team on Friday, competing with the squad for the first time since the team manager began publicly criticising him this summer. Bennett last competed for the team in the Volta ao Algarve on May 9th, but then suffered a knee injury and was forced to miss the Tour de France.

This plus his contract negotiations with his previous team, Bora-hansgrohe, led to public attacks on Bennett by Deceuninck-QuickStep manager Patrick Lefevere. The Belgian faced criticism for his abuse of Bennett and was ultimately forced to apologise after he compared the Irishman’s return to his previous team as being, “the same as women who still returns home after domestic abuse.”

He since said that he was trying to avoid paying Bennett his salary for the remainder of the season due to his lack of racing activity, but was unable to follow through on this as Bennett competed for Ireland in the recent European championships.

“From now on he will ride every race in which we can line him up in,” Lefevere told Belgian media outlets, including Het Nieuwsblad, this week.


“He rode seven kilometres [at the European Championships]. Good for him because we couldn’t stop that selection for Ireland and so he avoids the UCI rule [relating to salary reduction] being activated.” However the Irish Times understands that Bennett rode over 70 kilometres, and withdrew at the same time as a large number of other gapped riders when race organisers directed them to do so.

Bennett has not responded publicly to any of Lefevere’s comments. He rode in service of the team in Friday’s Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen, but was ultimately a non-finisher. Lefevere indicated that the team would line him out in the Gooikse Pijl event next Tuesday, as well as “everything that comes afterwards. He wanted it that way. Now I’m suddenly sorry that the Tour of Guangxi in China has been cancelled.”

The Carrick-on-Suir rider will be one of Ireland’s competitors in the upcoming world road race championships. He, Ryan Mullen, Eddie Dunbar and Rory Townsend will contest the elite road race on September 26th.

Cycling Ireland lineup for UCI Road World Championships, Flanders, Belgium (September 19th - 26th)

Elite men: road race - Sam Bennett, Eddie Dunbar, Rory Townsend, Ryan Mullen; time trial - Mullen, Marcus Christie.

Elite women’s road race: Megan Armitage.

U23 men: road race: Ben Healy, Dillon Corkery, Adam Ward; time trial - Healy, Kevin McCambridge.

Junior men: road race - Darren Rafferty, Ronan O’Connor, Conal Skully, Dean Harvey; time trial - Rafferty, Skully.

Junior women’s road race: Erin Grace Creighton, Aoife O’Brien