Sam Bennett, Mark Christian, Sean Downey and others to An Post Sean Kelly team
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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sam Bennett, Mark Christian, Sean Downey and others to An Post Sean Kelly team

by Shane Stokes at 8:57 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Bogaerts building team strength for 2012 and beyond

Sam BennettOne of Ireland’s most promising amateur riders has signed a new year-long contract with the An Post Grant Thornton M. Donnelly Sean Kelly team. Sam Bennett, who was European junior points race champion in 2008 and one of the youngest stage winners in the An Post Rás one year later, has spent a season with the team and settled in very well.

His results this year included first in the 1.2 ranked GP Van de Stad Geel, second in a stage of the An Post Rás and first Under 23 rider in the Irish nationals.

As a result of this plus his potential, he has been given a new deal. General manager Kurt Bogaerts is pleased that Bennett, who comes from Sean Kelly’s hometown of Carrick on Suir, is remaining within the squad. “I am delighted that Sam has signed for another season with us,” he said. “He had a difficult start coming back from an injury from the previous year, which took time to sort out.

“During the second half of the season everything came together for him and he produced some great results, the highlight of which was his win at the 1.2 GP van de Stad Geel.”

He believes that with a solid season behind him, things will step up a notch in 2012. “Next season I’m sure we will have him fully fit from the start of the year,” he stated. “I really expect him to be one of the most important members of the team in 2012.”

The team is also bringing four new riders on board. Isle of Man rider Mark Christian is one of those, moving to the An Post Sean Kelly squad after taking a bronze medal in last year’s Commonwealth Games. Another is the Australian Tour of Geelong stage winner Scott Law.

The quartet is completed by the Belgian riders Joren Segers and the 2011 Ronde van Noord Holland winner Nils Wytinck.

“All four riders have a lot of potential and they’ve shown they have the talent based on previous results,” said Bogaerts, who has been following them in recent seasons. “Our plan is to develop them long term, so I hope they will be part of the setup for a few years.

“Both Law and Christian have good track experience, which was something we looked out for. Gediminas Bagdonas had a similar track history so I hope they will turn out like him.”

The team recently signed Irish under 23 time trial champion Sean Downey, who has been racing this year for the French Cote d’Armor team.

“It’s no secret that we have been after Sean for a while now and I’m delighted that he has joined the team,” said Bogaerts. “He’s a young rider with huge potential. He’s strong in all departments – a good time trialist and a climber too.”

Eleventh and best Irish finisher in this year’s An Post Rás, the 21 year old is regarded as a big talent. He has had more than his fair share of setbacks but remains focussed.

“In his short career he’s already had some bad injuries, but he’s come back from them every time and showed real character,” Bogaerts continued. “He joins the team with great confidence and I’m looking forward to seeing him at the training camp in December.”


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