Sam Bennett said he had “a lot of s**t online” thrown his direction after using superstar Peter Sagan as a lead-out rider in the early season.
The Irish sprinter took on leadership duties during the Vuelta a San Juan last month, but revealed there was added pressure with a three-time world champion working for him.
Bennett missed out on his first two opportunities in Argentina and sparked a less than enthusiastic response from some fans online, he said.
The 28-year-old, who is carrying the sprinting hopes of his Bora-Hansgrohe team at the UAE Tour this week, said: “It’s a bit of pressure.
“Excuse my language, but you get a lot of s**t online if you don’t pull it off after that lead out.
“But it’s early in the season and nobody really stresses.”
The talented fast man shares plenty of attributes with Sagan, particularly his ability to succeed in chaotic and unpredictable sprints.
Fortunately, Bennett was able to quiet the doubters in San Juan when he took victory on the final stage. His lead-out man Sagan finished fifth.
He added: “It’s always good to start the season with a win.
“It’s good for moral and we’ve come here [to the UAE Tour] looking for another one.
“I’d like to win here. Everything I can get an opportunity for I’m going to really go for.
“I always do, but it’s very a important year this year and I’m not getting any younger.”
Bennett’s contract with Bora expires at the end of the 2019 season.
He has been vocal about his dissatisfaction at the team’s decision to not take him to the Giro d’Italia this season, particularly after his three stage wins at the Italian Grand Tour last year.
In the short term, Bennett said his big targets are Milan-San Remo and the World Championships in Yorkshire.
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