Being a sprinter in pro cycling is a tough job. Besides the power that is required to have and the specific training, and psychological factor is very important as risk taking must be higher in order to be in contention. Sam Bennett talks about some of these issues.
“I still owe a lot to that team, so I don’t look into it too much. I think people think I’m a certain way because I have a soft demeanour, I never come across as too arrogant... But you can’t really do this sport if you’re not a bit more robust than that. Like, that stuff won’t get to you," Bennett told Cyclingnews in an extensive interview.
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Talking about his stint in Soudal - Quick-Step, which ended abruptly as Patrick Lefevere started a feud with the Irishman. A knee injury was at the base of it, with Bennett missing out on the final part of the season. Not only was Lefevere criticizing one of his main sprinters but also online the Irishman was being criticized by some people.
“Throughout my career, when things happen, if I got relegated in a sprint or somebody saw something online and they weren’t happy or whatever, I always kept my mouth shut. I don’t get involved with that, and I just do my own thing. I live in a different world to it," Bennett shares however.
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“In 2021, I injured my right knee at QuickStep, but at the start of 2022, I injured my left knee, I just never spoke about it. When you’re already injured and you’re compensating for one thing, you can end up stressing the other and maybe I ended up doing that," he continues.
A string of injuries led to a lack of form that was not beneficial for the now BORA - hansgrohe rider, who had a difficult start to his return to the German team. “In hindsight, I should really have just trained and not raced until March or April, but that wasn’t how you want to start back with another team," he admits.
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The pressure forced him to an early start, which in return saw him miss out on his best form by a long shot. This was evident for several months and inclusively saw him out of the Tour de France where he had a leadout and plans to take part in.
This eventually took a turn towards the end of the year where he won two stages at the Vuelta a Espana. However the 32-year old does not forget the difficulties he went through a year ago: “Earlier in the season, I was already at my limit with 200 metres to go. It looked like I was sitting up, but I had basically already done my sprint just to get there."
"Physically, I’m not a typical sprinter: they can do sprint training and then get by on their high lactate building rate. But I really have to build a big engine, use my endurance, and get to the finish fresher to be able to sprint. Earlier in the year, I just hadn’t that work done.”
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