Bennett hints at team switch after securing seventh stage victory
Scintillating Sam Bennett sprinted to his seventh World Tour victory of the year in stage three of the Criterium du Dauphine yesterday and afterwards revealed he is in talks with other teams about a move away from Bora-Hansgrohe at the end of the season.
Bennett has "offers on the table" after growing frustrated at the German team, who have overlooked the 28-year-old for the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France, in favour of other sprinters Pascal Ackerman and Peter Sagan.
"I'm just talking to teams and trying to find teams that can best support me and give me the race programme that I'm looking for," said the Carrick-on-Suir man, who is enjoying his most successful season in the peloton. "I want to grow as a rider and I think there are a few offers on the table.
"I want to be able to show myself and I don't want to be stuck behind any other riders. It's a tough decision but there are a few options. Time is ticking of course, but I just need to see. I'm not getting any younger, and I feel like I'm coming into my best years and it's important that the doors are open. I've been doing pretty good in the stage races and just want to keep it going. I just want to keep the consistency and keep improving myself as a rider."
However, his Bora-Hansgrohe team did the perfect job to set up the victory in the 177km-stage from Le Puy-en-Velay to Riom. They reeled in a two-man escape with 12km remaining before Bennett was brought into position by lead-out man Shane Archbold in the final kilometre.
With the Kiwi giving the Irishman an armchair ride into the final sprint, Bennett's gallop to the line left Wout van Aert of Jumbo-Visma trailing a bike length behind in second, with Astana's Davide Ballerini third.
"After a relatively easy day, it was a pretty chaotic final," smiled Bennett. "I was a little worried about how my legs were after the last two days, and then it was so cold during the stage. You're always going to feel bad when it's that cold. At the last moment though, Shane said, 'I'm still good, are you still on my wheel?' and he hit it and took me to 200 metres to go."
Bennett kicked off his team-mate's wheel and had time to throw both arms in the air at the finishing line.
"I always find it harder when I'm the point of reference in the sprint," admitted Bennett of his pre-race favourite's tag. "When there are other sprinters with full trains it's easier to gauge where you need to be off of them, but today they were watching where I was. I found that hard, but I had great legs and power in the end."