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Sam Bennett says he is now in the right place as he attempts to reach his top level again in the pro peloton (Photo: Vanik Zoltán)

Sam Bennett has completed his long-awaited move to French World Tour team, Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale, with the Irishman being unveiled as one of its new signings at a team event earlier today.

Bennett is leaving Bora-hansgrohe, after a two-year stint, and will look to re-set his career in new surroundings in a bid to try and recapture the sprint kick that has secured him 10 Grand Tour stage wins and the green jersey at the 2020 Tour de France.

He said he had kept a close eye on the team from the early years in his career, due to previous Irish involvement and saw the move as a big opportunity for the next two years.

“There’s many things that influenced this,” he said of his decision to ride for the team started 31 years ago by Vincent Lavenu, who remains the general manager.

The new Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale kit for next year, gone are the brown shorts…

“When I was a young amateur rider I was watching Nico Roche and Philip Deignan in the team, and they’re riders I looked up to,” he said of Roche riding for the team for six years to 2012 and Deignan, who rode for the French outfit for four years to 2008.

“And then, of course, I saw the big opportunity to come to this team to get an amazing race program and to work with Van Rysel, which is fantastic. I think it’s the best environment for me to be able to reach my top level. So I’m excited, it’s a new adventure.”

The team is set to ride Van Rysel bikes – owned by the French sports retail chain Decathlon – next year. Decathlon – which previously worked with the team from 2002 to 2007 – was also unveiled as a new title sponsor today.

The sponsorship with Decathlon – which will also supply Van Rysel helmets and glasses – has been agreed on a five-year basis as the retailer seeks to corner a larger section of the ‘experienced cyclist’ market.

Bennett, who will enter his 11th season as a pro next year with Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale is one of six new signings for the 2024 season. Dries de Bondt joins from Alpecin-Deceuninck, Tour de France stage winner, Victor Lafay, arrives from Cofidis while 2023 Giro maglia rosa, Bruno Armirail, has signed from Groupama-FDJ.

Also new to Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale for next year will be Gianluca Pollefliet, a 21-year-old who steps up from Lotto Dstny Development Team, and Sander De Pestel who arrives from the Team Flanders-Baloise ProCont team.

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