Sam Bennett to return to action with new team on February 1st

Irish sprinter starts the new year fresh after injury struggles frustrated for much of 2021

Sam Bennett's much-anticipated return to competition with his new Bora-hansgrohe team looks set to occur on February 1st, with the Carrick-on-Suir rider scheduled to make his season debut in the Saudi Tour. The 2-HC-ranked event will take place in the AlUla region for five days and should offer Bennett several opportunities to chase sprint success.

His last victory was on stage three of the 2021 Volta ao Algarve in Portugal on May 7th. That was his seventh win of the year but was followed by a knee injury which forced him to miss the Tour de France and meant he was out of action until September. He started four races, including the Irish national championships in October, and told the Irish Times then that his injury had been resolved.

Bennett has been training hard since then and will be motivated to return to the top step of the podium as soon as possible. Part of his motivation will be to show that his move to Bora-hansgrohe, where he previously competed until the end of 2019, can be as successful as his two years with the Deceuninck-QuickStep team. He will also be fired up after becoming a father for the first time in December.

Irish national champion Ryan Mullen has also moved to Bora-hansgrohe and will be one of the most important members of Bennett's leadout train. He too will compete in the Saudi Tour, and will then accompany Bennett to what is set to be their second event of the season, the UAE Tour.

The WorldTour event will be held between February 20th and 26th in the United Arab Emirates. Bennett won two stages in last year's edition.

Before then, both riders will meet up with the rest of the Bora-hansgrohe squad in a training camp in Mallorca. That begins on January 13th and runs until January 25th.

Bennett won two stages plus the green jersey in the 2020 Tour de France and making a successful return to the race will be his biggest season goal. The world road race championships in Wollongong, Australia next September could potentially suit his characteristics, and may also be a priority.

Shane Stokes

Shane Stokes

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