More than four months since Sam Bennett last rode a race for Deceuninck-QuickStep, the team has named him to his team for the upcoming Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen and Gooikse Pijl.
The 30-year-old Irishman last ran for the Belgian WorldTour team at the Volta ao Algarve. He was scheduled to run this year’s Tour de France, but was scratched from the Deceuninck-QuickStep list with a knee injury. However, team manager Patrick Lefevere would later call his own team’s star sprinter forward and question whether Bennett did not run due to “fear of failure” and criticized him for what he considered to be inadequate communication with the team.
In August, Lefevere said Bennett would need knee surgery and end his season, but Bennett then ran for Ireland at the European Championships earlier this month, reviving Lefevere’s anger. Lefevere told Het Nieuwsblad last week that he was trying to reduce Bennett’s salary in accordance with the UCI rules for longer periods away from racing.
Now, Bennett is apparently ready to return to competition for Deceuninck-QuickStep. The team named him for its line-ups for the Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen, which takes place on Friday, and the Gooikse Pijl, which takes place on Sunday, both UCI 1.1-rated events. A spokesman for Deceuninck-QuickStep confirmed to CyclingTips that the team expects Bennett to run both events.
Dutch speedster Fabio Jakobsen, who won three stages at the recent Vuelta a España, will lead the team in both races, where Bennett’s expected role is less clear at the moment.