George Bennett relishing RadioShack Nissan opportunity
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Friday, November 18, 2011

George Bennett relishing RadioShack Nissan opportunity

by Xylon van Eyck at 5:26 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews
Kiwi looking to learn from experienced climbers on the team

George BennettNew Zealander George Bennett will make a permanent step up to the professional ranks next year after riding with Team RadioShack as a stagiaire since August. The 21 year old was offered the job by Johan Bruyneel and his management team after a fine performance during his apprenticeship, and is set to become team-mates to riders such as Andy and Frank Schleck and Fabian Cancellara.

Asked if he was confident he’d have a contract offer after his time with the team, he told VeloNation that he was as optimistic as was possible in the current market. “I think in 2011 it was very difficult for any neo pros to be confident with all of the mergers and teams collapsing,” he explained. “However, I had a lot of trust in team RadioShack Nissan Trek and once they gave me their word, I knew I was going to have a contract.”

Bennett was a member of Trek Livestrong this season, a feeder team for RadioShack. After winning the Tour of Wellington at the beginning of the year and racking up a number of podium places in France, he was invited to ride for RadioShack from August.

His role was to ride in support of Levi Leipheimer at the Tour of Utah and USA Pro Cycling Challenge, two races the American ended up winning.

“I loved it, to me it was more of what I enjoy about cycling - harder racing and insane crowds,” he said. “It was tough but the team made me feel very welcome and trusted me to do my job, the racing seemed more organized and getting the chance to defend the yellow jersey was something very special.”

The Kiwi is following closely in the footsteps of compatriot Jesse Sergent who also graduated from Trek Livestrong to make a successful senior debut for RadioShack.

Sergent won Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen and Tour du Poitou Charentes this year, and although Bennett is unsure of how close he’ll come to winning races in his first year, watching successful neo pros like Sergent and Alex Dowsett brings him some encouragement.
“I can only assume as a young guy in a team with such an impressive roster I will be there to learn, develop and help the team mostly in the mountains,” Bennett said.

“I think watching how [Sergent and Dowsett] have made the jump and the experience I got from my time as a stagiaire I have a good idea of just how fast the WorldTour will be.

“I know I won’t be there to win races for a while but I think I can definitely be a very useful rider to the team and adapt to the higher level of racing.”


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