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Kurt Bogaerts during the An Post days, when Sam Bennett was under his charge. While he’s now with Ineos Grenadiers, Bogaerts still keeps an eye on Bennett and believes he can get back to the top with a new team next year

By Shane Stokes

Former An Post Chainreaction team manager Kurt Bogaerts has given a thumbs up to Sam Bennett’s move to Decathlon Ag2r La Mondiale, saying he believes the Irishman should shine with the right buildup to the season.

Now with Ineos Grenadiers, the Belgian worked closely with Bennett for several years and was one of the key figures in the rider’s eventual progression to the WorldTour and Tour de France success.

He has seen the Carrick-on-Suir sprinter take the green jersey in that race, as well as numerous other major pro results. More recently he has watched as things haven’t quite clicked with Bora-hansgrohe, something which led to Bennett moving teams in search of a fresh start.

“Sam will always be someone that I care about and always look out for,” Bogaerts told stickybottle. “So it’s good that he can continue his career in a nice World Tour team.

“Hopefully he can pick it up where he left it, for example in winning the green jersey in the Tour a few years ago. Hopefully he can have the right support.”

Bennett’s second stint with Bora-hansgrohe wasn’t what he, and the team, hoped for but Bogaerts believes the Irishman can still win more races in coming years (Photo: Peter de Voecht-PN-Cor Vos)

Bogaerts coaches British star Tom Pidcock now and works with other top riders within the Ineos Grenadiers setup. He’s hugely experienced, and feels Bennett’s chances of success will be boosted if his love for the sport is good.

“Just basically enjoy cycling, win races,” he said by way of advice. “Don’t beat our team too much (laughs). For Sam, I hope he can just enjoy cycling and win. That’s what he is good at, and that is what he proved in the past that he can do well.

“I think a fresh start will be good, get ready for the season, hopefully have a good winter. To find a match with the team, and then normally he should still have some good years ahead of him.”

When Bennett had injury issues with the An Post Chainreaction team the input of Bogaerts and Sean Kelly was important in keeping him optimistic and motivated. He said that the same positive mindset applies now, and in general for those in the sport.

“That’s the combination for many riders. I think it goes a little bit hand in hand. I think sometimes Sam is a bit unfortunate and sometimes things don’t fall into place. But then you have times in his career when things really do fall into place.

“So it’s a little bit of puzzle that he needs to put right, and that starts with having a good winter and then building on that good winter and accelerate.”

Bennett said this week that he might delay his season slightly in order to be fully ready. Bogaerts believes momentum will be important, and that winning early should be a boost.

“Hopefully he can have a good start. When you have a good start in the new team, that’s good,” he said. “But also give it time. Sam is a fast rider so normally he can’t lose that.

“If he has the right winter in the legs, then he should be able to win races. If he has the right preparation, I think he’s still one of the fastest.”

#Bennetts #exDS #Bogaerts #Sam #fastest

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