Video Interview: Sam Bennett determined to have a strong season with An Post Sean Kelly
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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Video Interview: Sam Bennett determined to have a strong season with An Post Sean Kelly

by Shane Stokes at 8:15 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews, Video
 
Rider could be next young Irishman to make pro breakthrough

Sam BennettFormer European points race champion Sam Bennett is heading into his second season with the An Post Grant Thornton Sean Kelly team and believes he could be on course for a very strong year.

“Things are really good. I am really happy with my pre-season…I’ve never got such a clear run,” the 21 year old told VeloNation in a video interview conducted at the recent launch of the An Post Rás in Dublin. “I have done a lot and I feel like my condition is really good. I think it should be a totally different year for me, hopefully a good one.”

Bennett comes from the same town, Carrick on Suir, as former world number one Sean Kelly and showed his potential when he took that junior points race title in 2008. He turned senior the following year and despite his youth, won a stage in the 2.2-ranked Rás. He also scooped the Alleins GP in France while racing with the VC La Pomme team, and was also a solid 25th overall against some of the world’s top riders in the Tour of Ireland.

Bennett’s progress was interrupted that December when he was hit by a car when training, and suffered a fractured collarbone, plus injuries to his leg and head. When recovering from that, he was hit by a bout of swine flu, further complicating things.

Despite that, he bounced back to net second on a stage in the Tour de Bretagne and then won stage four of the Rhone Alpes Isère Tour. Other results include ninth on a stage of the Coupe des Nations Ville Saguenay event, as well as the Irish under 23 title.

Those results earned him a trial with the FDJ team but before he could take it up, he began experiencing knee issues, possibly relating to his collision with the car months earlier. He was unable to take up the stagiaire position as a result.

Instead, he signed with the An Post team and began competing with it last year. His form started slowly, but built up solidly over time.

“I was just coming back from an accident so I needed that year at that level to get up to that standard,” he said, “to get that base and the endurance back, and just to really get back in the mix. I found at the start of the year that I was struggling. I was only doing 60 kilometres out of 200 kilometre races and was finding them difficult, but by the nationals I was finishing the races. By the end of the year, I was up in the mix each time.”

He showed that progress by winning the 1.2 ranked GP Stad in Belgium. “That was a highlight…I was really delighted with that as I was able to show that I can sprint, that I can mix it with some of the good continental guys out there.”


Watch the video below for more from Sam Bennett, including his impressions of 2011, his goals for the year ahead and being pushed by Sean Kelly.

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