Sam Bennett to keep his focus on Giro d’Italia in 2018

Irish rider did well on his debut in Italy last year – but will miss out on Tour de France

Sam Bennett: was third on the points classification in the Giro d’Italia earlier this year. Photograph: Philippe Lopez/AFP/Getty

Sam Bennett: was third on the points classification in the Giro d’Italia earlier this year. Photograph: Philippe Lopez/AFP/Getty

 

Sam Bennett has confirmed that he is set to focus on the Giro d’Italia rather than the Tour de France in 2018, returning to the Italian race after a strong debut this year.

Bennett finished second, third, third and third on stages in the race, and was also third in the points classification. He was one of the strongest sprinters in the race, but felt he was held back due to illness.

“I got a lot of experience and I will be up for it next year,” he said. “I could see that the power wasn’t there in the sprints, but I was still close. Next year I hope it will be better.”

Bennett missed the Tour de France as world champion Peter Sagan was named as sprint leader for the squad in that event. Sagan is set to do the same again in 2018, returning to the event after a controversial disqualification early on las time. The UCI has since conceded that the ruling was perhaps an incorrect one by its commissaires, and Sagan plus the Bora-hansgrohe team will be keen for him to land another green jersey.

Bennett should have sprint leadership in the Giro, and could potentially ride the Vuelta a Espana later in the season. That would be his first time to ride two Grand Tours, and would add greatly to his strength.

He said that he didn’t mind missing the Tour, noting that his first two participations in the event proved tough experiences for him. He was sick on his debut in 2015, and crashed hard on the opening stage in 2016.

“I still have bad memories and I need a break from it. I think in the next few years I can come back to it.”

Good news

Meanwhile the Irish Aqua Blue Sport team received notification on Thursday that it had secured a UCI Pro Continental licence for 2018. The squad was initially passed over for the licence earlier this week, but has now received good news from the governing body.

“In accordance with the UCI Regulations and following a full review of the registration file, including all criteria for attribution (ethical, financial and administrative), team Aqua Blue Sport has been awarded the status of UCI Professional Continental Team,” said the UCI.

The squad was the sole team from the WorldTour and Pro Continental ranks to miss out on a licence earlier this week. Following that decision, the team said that was confident of making the cut.

“Aqua Blue Sport continue to work closely with the licence commission to ensure all criteria for attribution are fulfilled according to UCI Regulations,” it stated then.

“At the request of the UCI, Aqua Blue Sport will be submitting additional documentation to support the team’s application for registration and are confident of a resolution in the coming days. The team anticipates the timely conclusion of this process and until that conclusion is reached, will be making no further comment.”

The squad made its debut in 2017 and won stages in the Tour de Suisse and the Vuelta a Espana, as well as the overall classification in the Tour of Austria. Larry Warbasse also became the US national road race champion. It was the first Irish squad in history to compete in the Vuelta.

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