Furious Patrick Lefevere slams Sam Bennett for racing European Championships

The Irish sprinter has not raced for Deceuninck - Quick-Step since early May

Patrick Lefevere
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Patrick Lefevere has spoken of his fury that Sam Bennett will ride the European Championships road race this weekend.

Bennett, who is leaving Lefevere's Deceuninck - Quick-Step team for Bora-Hansgrohe at the end of this season, hasn't raced at all since early May, when he won two stages and the points jersey at the Volta ao Algarve, due to injury. He missed the Tour de France - where he thrived with two stage wins and the green jersey in 2020 - because of the knee injury, the severity of which was questioned by the team boss.

Lefevere, who has regularly been posting his anger with the Irishman has, yet again, taken to his column in Het Nieuwsblad to voice his thoughts after reportedly beginning the process of halving Bennett's wages, this is allowed if a rider has not raced for three or more months due to illness or injury according to Article 21 of the Joint Agreement between the UCI, CPA and AIGCP. 

Bennett has not publicly spoken about the issues with the team since relations soured earlier this year.

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"Anyone who knows me knows that I never do that [cut pay], but here the rider is acting in bad faith. He no longer uploads training files and he does not want to be operated on," Lefevere said.

The European Championships road race is unsuited to Bennett, with the hilly 179.2km course in the Italian region of Trentino including 12 climbs along the way, leaving Lefevere to question Bennett's motivation for taking a place in the Ireland squad.

"Apparently all the tricks of the trade are at work," Lefevere said. "A course with 4,000 metres of elevation...

"What he's doing now is playing with my balls in public. He has also already sent a letter to the UCI to complain that I have tackled him in the media. It will not work. I'm going to take him back until the steam comes out of his ears,"

It has now been four months since Bennett raced, and Lefevere claims that Bennett has chosen not to work with the team to prove he is fit to race.

"I hear from his manager Andrew McQuaid that he will definitely finish the European Championship," Lefevere said. "I'm not so sure about that yet. We have already suggested that we do an exercise test at our Bakala Academy, but he does not go into that. For me it's simple; first prove that you're fit, before you take the place of a teammate."

Lefevere has constantly slated Bennett in his column, but was forced to apologise after comparing his return to Bora-Hansgrohe to domestic abuse. The Belgian did apologise for the comparison, but did not budge on his opinion of Bennett.

It is very unlikely that Bennett will race again after the European Championships, apart from a possible ride at the World Championships in Flanders, Belgium. His next race in a trade team will likely be in the 2022 season for Bora-Hansgrohe.

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Tim Bonville-Ginn

Hi, I'm one of Cycling Weekly's content writers for the web team responsible for writing stories on racing, tech, updating evergreen pages as well as the weekly email newsletter. Proud Yorkshireman from the UK's answer to Flanders, Calderdale, go check out the cobbled climbs!

I started watching cycling back in 2010, before all the hype around London 2012 and Bradley Wiggins at the Tour de France. In fact, it was Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck's battle in the fog up the Tourmalet on stage 17 of the Tour de France.

It took me a few more years to get into the journalism side of things, but I had a good idea I wanted to get into cycling journalism by the end of year nine at school and started doing voluntary work soon after. This got me a chance to go to the London Six Days, Tour de Yorkshire and the Tour of Britain to name a few before eventually joining Eurosport's online team while I was at uni, where I studied journalism. Eurosport gave me the opportunity to work at the world championships in Harrogate back in the awful weather.

After various bar jobs, I managed to get my way into Cycling Weekly in late February of 2020 where I mostly write about racing and everything around that as it's what I specialise in but don't be surprised to see my name on other news stories.

When not writing stories for the site, I don't really switch off my cycling side as I watch every race that is televised as well as being a rider myself and a regular user of the game Pro Cycling Manager. Maybe too regular.

My bike is a well used Specialized Tarmac SL4 when out on my local roads back in West Yorkshire as well as in northern Hampshire with the hills and mountains being my preferred terrain.