Sam Bennett, bursting with a desire to prove himself, is setting ambitious targets for 2024 following his move from BORA-hansgrohe to Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale. The Irish sprinter, aiming to bounce back after several lean years, has clearly set his sights on ten victories, including a win in the Tour de France.
Bennett stated, “Every year, my minimum goal is ten wins. I haven’t reached that in recent years, but it remains my target.” He expressed a desire to start the season with an early victory in a French race, though he acknowledged the need for more preparation time. Bennett emphasised the importance of a solid base before racing, highlighting the challenge of catching up if one falls behind.
Reflecting on his return to BORA-hansgrohe in 2022 after two years with Deceuninck-Quick-Step, Bennett admitted that his second stint with the German team was not successful. Now 33, he feels a strong need to redeem himself. “I lost my best years due to misfortunes. It’s crucial for me to prove to myself, and others, that I still have what it takes,” he said.
Bennett also addressed the changes he faces at Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale, particularly not having his trusted sprint train, which included riders like Danny van Poppel, Ryan Mullen, and the retired Shane Archbold. When asked about the possibility of bringing part of his lead-out team to the French squad, Bennett revealed, “It wasn’t an option. Budgets were already set, and the roster nearly complete when I spoke with the team. We tried, but it wasn’t feasible.”
Despite these changes, Bennett is confident in the support he’ll receive at Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale. He anticipates having Oliver Naesen and others as part of his new team. “We’re still figuring out who wants to do what and who has the motivation and potential. We have a strong team that can get me close enough to the finish line to try and win,” he concluded.