Sam Bennett aims to be 'master of chaos' in sprints as he returns to Bora-Hansgrohe

Irishman to target Milan-San Remo and then Tour de France as he looks to move on from troubled 2021

Sam Bennett
Sam Bennett celebrates winning for Bora-Hansgrohe on stage three of the 2019 Vuelta a España
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Sam Bennett will not speak about the breakdown of his relationship with Quick Step and Patrick Lefevere. Instead, he wants to "focus on the year ahead".

The Irish sprinter has returned to Bora-Hansgrohe, which he says feels like home. It was an "easy decision", Bennett explained.

"I was happy here before, I had more wins here the season before I left than I did the last two years. I know I can win again here. I have a great coach, a great bike, and the staff are amazing here."

Speaking to the media on Bora-Hansgrohe's virtual press day, Bennett spoke with ambition and drive about the year ahead and his new team.

Together with Max Schachmann, Felix Grossschartner, and Aleksandr Vlasov, the Irishman will target the Tour de France, with a new lead-out train being built around him.

Made up of Danny van Poppel, Ryan Mullen and Shane Archibold, all three of whom have moved to Bora this winter as well, the train has the potenital to be better than Quick Step's Bennett said.

"I wouldn't have asked to work with these guys if I didn't think it was possible. We just have to do it on the road I suppose. I don't think straight up we'll be better than them, for sure we will match them, but in time it can be better."

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"Danny has been a fantastic sprinter the last couple of years," Bennett explained. "I think he knows what I need and what I want. He's a guy with great power. Shane, I've worked with for so many years and I know what he's capable of, and also Ryan Mullen, he's an animal. 

"We're all quite strong guys individually, and when we come together we have a good morale, and we work together. The stronger you are, the more clear your decisions are in the final, and you're able to react to certain scenarios or maybe fix mistakes, by using power. We will catch on pretty quick, everybody is motivated, we all get along super well."

It was knee problems which kept Bennett out of so much racing in 2021, including the Tour de France. Fortunately for him and his new team, he described it as "fine", adding that there was no pain anymore.

Everything seems "on track" for this season, he said. "I've surprised myself with some of the days [at the training camp]. I still have a bit of catching up to do with the sprint work. I'm getting the hours in, I think it was my first six-hour ride since Gent-Wevelgem, but the body reacted well to it. 

"I'm quite happy. Building quite slowly, but everything seems to be on track."

Asked to name his biggest rivals for sprints in 2022, Bennett name checked Dylan Groenewegen, Caleb Ewan and former teammate Fabio Jakobsen, although he was "sure I'm leaving somebody out".

He said that it was better to have more contenders than just a couple in sprint finishes, saying that you have to become the "master of chaos".

"The more sprinters there are, the better," Bennett explained. "When it's one on one it's harder, but when there are multiple guys, you just kind of become master of the chaos. 

"I think I know how everybody works, and you pick up on their weaknesses and where you can catch them out. I think I'm pretty good at not knowing how I'm going to win, but once I'm on the road I can race and make a decision quick. I should be able to manage it."

Before a return to the Tour de France in July, where in 2020 he won the green jersey and two stages, he will target Milan-San Remo. The monument used to be known as a sprinter's race, but in recent years all-rounders like Wout van Aert and Julian Alaphilippe have been to the fore.

However, Bennett thinks that the race is well within his capabilities, despite never finishing higher than 42nd, last year.

"It's a hard one, because often you build up your whole winter towards San Remo, he said. At the moment, I've been building a little bit slower. I won't be at the same level as last year, because I haven't raced in so long. I won't be at my absolute best for it, but I hope to be close enough. 

"One mistake I made last year I chased too much form in Paris-Nice by going in breakaways. It's about getting the right balance. In top form, I can often climb really well, and the Poggio should suit me, and the fight for position into the bottom should suit me.

"On paper it should, it's just a lot can happen in the six hours before, and a lot has to go right. It seems like less of a sprinter's race, but it should be within my capabilities."

The Irishman also told the media that he does not need results to build his confidence, he knows when he is good. This should mean he can move on from his 2021 - where despite seven victories, none came past May - quickly.

"I get my confidence from the work I have done, he said. "So when I can see the numbers, that's where I get my confidence from. I know sometimes guys needs results, but I just need to see the stats. 

"You get morale from team improvements, and when you can see yourself improving and going in the right direction, you get the motiviation, the hunger comes back and it feeds itself."

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