Sam Bennett completes ‘dream come true’ move to Deceuninck-QuickStep
Waterford sprint specialist in line for return to Tour de France after four-year absence
Sam Bennett has signed a two-year deal with the Deceuninck-QuickStep team. Photograph: Robertus Pudyanto/Getty Images
Sam Bennett’s long anticipated move to the Deceuninck-QuickStep team has finally become official, with the Belgian squad confirming the news on Tuesday.
Bennett had been involved in a long tussle with the Bora-hansgrohe set-up he has been part of since turning professional in 2014, with the German team claiming that the Carrick-on-Suir rider had made a provisional agreement to stay earlier this year.
Bora-hansgrohe finally relinquished that claim last month, clearing the way for Tuesday’s announcement of a two-year deal.
“I am delighted to get to sign with Deceuninck-QuickStep, the team I had a poster of on my wall when I was a kid,” said Bennett, who was born in Belgium.
“I remember going to a race with An Post and seeing QuickStep at races. I was intimidated by such a big team. I never thought I would be good enough to sign for them, so be able to say that I am riding for them is a dream come true.”
The team is arguably the best one-day squad in the world and officials with Deceuninck-QuickStep have said they believe that Bennett could become a top Classics rider.
He is currently one of the best sprinters in the world, clocking up 13 victories this season, including two stages in the Vuelta a España. As Deceuninck-QuickStep features arguably the best lead-out train for sprinters, major successes seem on the cards.
Bennett is expected to lead the team’s sprint hopes at the Tour de France, and should consequently return to the race next July after what will be a four-year absence.
Bennett’s friend and top lead-out man Shane Archbald is also moving across with a two-year contract.
Deceuninck-QuickStep CEO Patrick Lefevere welcomed the announcement. “The protracted nature of Sam’s move has been well documented but I am delighted to have him on board,” he said.
“His palmares [results] alone speaks volumes about his talent and determination, but he is also a great character and another leader to have around the team. We all cannot wait to start working with him.”
National road race champion Bennett echoed this, saying that he is similarly psyched.
“It is a daunting task to race for this team, but it is motivating and a challenge, having been with my previous team for so long. I feel refreshed. It is fantastic to have Shane here too. I am delighted for him as he had a few years where he wasn’t getting opportunities, so for us to both be here is special.”