Sam Bennett's team manager has reconfirmed the Irishman's departure from the Deceuninck-QuickStep squad for 2022, and also made it clear that he will be the team's designated sprinter at this month's Tour de France.
Speaking to the Bici.pro website, Patrick Lefevere confirmed that Bennett and his sprint lead-out train have been selected for the Tour, and that their presence will take pressure off the shoulders of world champion Julian Alaphilippe.
“For Sam it will be the last year with us,” he stated. “It is said that he will return to Bora [the Bora-hansgrohe team], but there are still no certainties.”
Bennett competed with Bora-hansgrohe for several seasons but left the German squad 2019 after Peter Sagan and young German sprinter Pascal Ackermann were prioritised over him. Bennett has since gone on to become the top sprinter in world cycling, winning two stages plus the green jersey in last year's Tour de France, as well as netting other successes.
While his superb form made it unlikely he would not be prioritised for the Tour, some teams in the past have declined to select riders who were set to leave at the end of the season in question.
Lefevere previously said that he wanted Bennett to stay with the team next season but that other teams were offering more money than he could afford.
He ruled out speculation that multiple Tour de France stage winner Mark Cavendish could also take part in this year's Tour. Cavendish moved to the team last winter and has since returned to strong form, winning four stages in the recent Tour of Turkey.
"Mark did a few races, he was also unlucky, because some he had to do were cancelled," he said. "He retired at the third stage of the Vuelta Andalucia, saying it was not a race for sprinters and the next day Greipel [Andre Greipel, another sprinter] won. The Tour is perhaps too hard for him now."
Bennett has clocked up seven wins thus far this season. He last competed in the Volta ao Algarve, which finished on May 9th. It is not yet clear which races he will participate in prior to the Tour de France, but he is not racing in the current Critérium du Dauphiné and will also miss the upcoming Tour de Suisse.