Patrick Lefevere has subtly reiterated his stance that Sam Bennett did not have the desire to race the Tour de France.
The manager of Deceuninck – Quick-Step has maintained over the previous few weeks that Bennett, the winner of the points classification in 2020, could have started this year’s race.
Bennett, however, did not take to the start-line in Brest on Saturday owing to a niggling knee problem.
In a further sign of the pair’s fraying relationships, Lefevere has disputed the diagnostic and accused the Irishman of having a “fear of failure” and being a person who “doesn’t dare to tell the truth.”
The war of words from Lefevere, which are increasing in severity and tone, continued at the start of stage two of this year’s race.
Asked by Cycling Weekly what his thoughts are on the situation, the Belgian said: “I don’t want to speak any more about people who are not here. It says more about him than about me.”
Bennett is expected to leave the Belgian team at the end of the season and join another outfit, ending his two-year spell with Lefevere’s men.
His position in the team at the Tour was replaced by 30-time stage winner Mark Cavendish who is aiming to add to that tally.
“That would be wonderful,” Lefevere said when asked about the possibility of the Briton winning again in the race. "We brought him in at the last minute and we put him on the throne.”
Cavendish was not injured in any of stage’s one big crashes that abruptly ended the Tour for at least four riders, but the sprinter was apprehensive throughout the day, according to his boss.
“He was very nervous,” Lefevere said. “He hasn’t been here for many years and then coming back at the last minute, he feels the race. It’s normal.”
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