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Bennett looks to future at An Post Sean Kelly

Posted 07 October 2010

Sam Bennett is looking to put a nightmare season behind him and to realise his potential as a sprinter having signed a contract for the 2011 season with the An Post Sean Kelly Team.

The teenager who is recovering from a knee injury which prevented him from riding as a stagiaire with the Francaise des Jeux team told Irish Pro Cycling that his new team presented the best set up to advance his career.

“The team was the next stepping stone for me and it was the best way for me to go. It is a great team with a great race programme and I’m really looking forward to stepping up a level with them,” he said.

“They have already done a lot to help me get the best treatment for my injury. They gave me that support and got me the best treatment before I joined the team. They didn’t have to do that, but they did and I am very grateful for that,” he added.

Bennett picked up the knee injury in the two-day Pays Roannais in France in July but is hoping to return to bike training in the next six weeks following the success of his treatment at the renowned Hartmann Sports Clinic at the University of Limerick.

"Within the next six weeks or so I should be back on the bike. I’ve had a very disappointing season, it’s been a nightmare and I just want to put it behind me,” he remarked.

“I started the season with the swine-flu, two months after I was hit by car and was playing catch up for six week. I got sick for three weeks after Canada, then I was just hitting form coming off the nationals when I injured my two knees.

“I was delighted to win the national U.23 road race but you can’t base your whole season around the nationals as anything could happen in one day. Joining An Post is perfect. It’s a new opportunity, a new goal, a new start and some new karma. It’s just what I need,” he added.

The nineteen year old believes that his experience of riding with the French amateur VC La Pomme club will serve him well with his new team and that Belgian racing will suit him better than racing in France.

“The racing will suit me more in Belgium than France. There is a lot of flat racing where you need to have that power and good bike handling skills. It will be very positive for me. It’s perfect because the team also do some races with Pro Tour riders so I will be stepping up,” said.

Bennett is also looking forward to learning from Sean Kelly whom he describes as one of his cycling heroes. “Coming from the same hometown it is good motivation working with Sean. He has been a hero of mine from early on and he is cycling’s ultimate hard man,” he added.

Team Manager Kurt Bogaerts told Irish Pro Cycling that they were delighted to sign Bennett and that the team had worked hard to secure the contract as it strengthens its roster for the 2011 season.

“We are delighted he is joining our team. He is very young with a lot of potential, not just in one discipline but as an all rounder. Specifically he is a sprinter which is something that we do not have on board already, with the exception of Niko Eeckhout,” he said.

“He is one of the most promising young Irish guys out there at moment. We did a lot of work to get him on board and we are really happy that we succeeded in that,” he added.

Bogaerts explained that his immediate priority was to help Bennett to recover from his knee injuries before working on developing his talent as a sprinter.

“Firstly we will concentrate on the injury and his recovery and getting him ready for the season. We will give him different types of races to help him develop as a sprinter.

“I do not want to put him in one box at the moment. He is young and he has proved himself already. If we can win races in the sprint we will try to help him. We are building a very strong team this year with some real experience that will help him.

“The major objective of our team is to bring young Irish riders to a higher level and we can succeed in doing that with him and with others,” he said.

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