Sam Bennett on course for Giro d’Italia despite illness

Bora-hansgrohe rider already back training after withdrawal from Vuelta al Pais Vasco

With the Giro d’Italia now less than a month away, Sam Bennett’s withdrawal in the Spanish Vuelta al Pais Vasco on Monday removed one of the preparatory races from his schedule. He rolled out when the flag dropped, but immediately retired.

His Bora-hansgrohe team cited bronchitis as the reason, explaining why he was missing the five-day WorldTour event.

This week the team’s press officer has downplayed the illness somewhat, saying on Wednesday that it was more a precautionary measure to ensure he doesn’t become run down before the start of the Giro.

Bennett actually became sick in last week’s Three Days of De Panne race in Belgium, and began a course of antibiotics then. He finished that course on Sunday but didn’t feel sufficiently recovered to tackle another stage race.


He is already back training and will head to Sierra Nevada on Sunday for a two-week altitude camp. After that, he will compete in the Grand Prix Frankfurt and then make his debut in the Giro d’Italia on May 5th.

An Post Rás

In other news, former world track champion Cameron Meyer is one of 15 overseas riders who were confirmed for the An Post Rás on Thursday. Meyer previously competed with the Garmin-Slipstream, Orica GreenEdge and Team Dimension Data WorldTour squads, but walked away disillusioned last season.

He has since returned to competition with the Australian track team and will compete in the upcoming world championships. As a road professional he took the overall victory in the Santos Tour Down Under, a stage in the Tour de Suisse and team time trial success in both the Tour de France and Giro d'Italia.

"Cameron will play a crucial leadership role with his extensive experience as a successful professional road cyclist," said Cycling Australia's under-23 national coach James Victor. "He has the most extensive results of this team. He is very much enjoying his revitalised career and I think we have our best chance to chase the overall classification with him."

The team will also include Australian under-23 road race champion Samuel Jenner, Oceania championship runner-up Michael Storer, Rio Olympics silver medallist Samuel Welsford and 2016 world team pursuit champion Alexander Porter.

French Army

This week’s announcement of entries also includes a Belgian national track team. This will feature 2013 An Post Rás stage winner Moreno De Pauw, as well as Bryan Boussaer, Jules Hesters, Gerben Thijssen and Sasha Weemaes.

The third squad is the French Armee de Terre team, which is comprised completely of riders from the army. The line-up is Thomas Rostollan, Yannis Yssaad, Morgan Kneisky, Jérôme Mainard and Stéphane Poulhiès.

The team captain will be the 31-year-old Rostollan, who took a stage in the 2012 An Post Rás and finished second overall in the general classification.

“Our goal is to win the general classification and also to take some stages too,” said team spokesman Jean Vantalon. “Of course it will be difficult but our goal is to give the best. We won’t be in Ireland for tourism!”

The 2017 An Post Rás will begin in Dublin on Sunday, May 21st. It is 1,200 kms in length and features stage finishes in Longford, Newport, Bundoran, Buncrana, Dungloe, Donegal, Ardee and Skerries.

Shane Stokes

Shane Stokes

Shane Stokes is a contributor to The Irish Times writing about cycling