Sam Bennett is re-joining Bora-Hansgrohe after two years away.
But relations between Bennett and Deceuninck team boss Patrick Lefevere have deteriorated over the last few months, with Lefevere saying Bennett was “the epitome of mental weakness.”
After Bennett skipped the Tour de France due to a knee injury, rumours began to emerge that the 30-year-old would be leaving the team at the end of the season, with Bora the most likely candidate.
On Tuesday (August 3), the German WorldTour team confirmed that Bennett has re-signed with the squad for the 2022 season, along with a new sprint train.
Bennett said: “I am very excited about returning to Bora–Hansgrohe. I had six incredible years with this team and I really feel like I grew up as a pro rider during this period. It was a really difficult decision to leave, but I decided I needed to continue my professional and personal development in a new environment. While some may have questioned my decision at the time, I believe it is the right move for me to return to Bora-Hansgrohe. I have enjoyed two great years at Deceuninck - Quick-Step, my boyhood dream team, and have continued my development both on and off the bike whilst making lifelong friendships. However, I feel ready to go back home to be the team leader that I want to be, and know Bora-Hansgrohe also wants me to be.”
Bennett stepped up to WorldTour level as Bora moved up from Pro Continental tier in 2017, but he left the team at the end of 2019 after he was forced to step aside in the biggest races to make way for Peter Sagan and Pascal Ackermann.
He then went onto his biggest success in his debut season with Deceuninck, winning two stages of the Tour, the green jersey, and a stage of the Vuelta a Espana.
But in 2021, Bennett was forced to skip the Tour due to injury, making way for Mark Cavendish, as Patrick Lefevere suggested the injury was more mental than physical.
Bennett will now be joining Bora with Irishman Ryan Mullen, Shane Archbold and Danny van Poppel all joining to form his lead-out train.
Bora is having to rebuild its sprint unit, as both Peter Sagan and Ackermann are leaving the team at the end of the year.
Team manager Ralph Denk said: “We've been together for several years, he turned pro with us and we developed him into one of the best sprinters in the peloton. It's no secret that his departure hurt us a lot at the time. However, I can understand that he felt that step was important for his career. I’d say that only worked out partially.
“We are a team that places a lot of value on cohesion, respect and sustainable cooperation, as we believe that these are the foundations for long-term success. You can have disagreements sometimes. However, as long as you treat each other with respect, you will always find each other again.”
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