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Following what has been a very strong debut season with the NetApp Endura team, the German squad and Irish sprinter Sam Bennett have confirmed that the rider has decided to extend his current contract until the end of the 2017 season.
Bennett had been due to race with the team until the end of 2015 but after a debut which saw him clock up four victories plus numerous other strong placings, the team negotiated and finalised a new deal with the rider.
“I am delighted to stay with my team for the next three years. The start to my professional career has been great with the team and I am already looking forward to next season,” said Bennett, who hails from Carrick on Suir, the same hometown as former world number one Sean Kelly.
“Having this year under my belt and also the experience I gained, I want to step up another level to bring the team even more success next year. Also I hope to start a Grand Tour, which will help my development.
“I get amazing support from all the staff and my teammates, who have never let me down. I can’t wait to work with the guys next year to pull off some big results.”
Bennett’s performances this season have seen him follow on from his stage win in last year’s Tour of Britain, a performance which secure the-then An Post Chainreaction Sean Kelly rider a contract with NetApp Endura.
He won the Clasica de Almeria in March, the Rund um Köln in April and stage five of Bayern Rundfarht in June. He followed that up with a kermesse victory in Belgium.
He was passed over for the Tour de France due to his youth and lack of racing at WorldTour level, as well as the team’s focus on the GC ambitions of Leo Konig. Bennett worked hard during July in order to have a strong second half to the season and appeared to be on track when he placed sixth in the RideLondon Classic and third on stage four of the Arctic Race of Norway.
He was also third on stage two of the Tour of Britain. However he became ill during that event and ultimately withdrew prior to stage 7. He hasn’t raced since.
It is unclear if he will now hold off until next season or if he will return to competition before the end of the current calendar; either way, his debut season has impressed his team greatly.
“When we brought Sam on board, we were all clear about his potential,” said team manager Ralph Denk. “Although we’re delighted at his successes this year, we are always thinking a few steps ahead. This also includes the establishment of a sprint train, for which he will take responsibility.”
Bennett is in the top ten of the UCI’s Europe Tour and Denk recognises him as a rider with a lot of potential.
“This development is an investment and it will take time, but despite his young age, Sam has shown a great deal of foresight in opting for this continuity now,” he said. “I am delighted that we will be able to focus entirely on winning in the coming season.”
Bennett’s chances of more sprint successes will be bolstered by the addition of former An Post Chainreaction Sean Kelly team-mate Shane Archbold, who is himself very rapid in big gallops.
As well as being a strong road race rider, he has also impressed on the track in the past. He finished second in the 2011 omnium world championship and took the scratch race in this year’s Commonwealth Games. More recently he was second on stage five of the Tour of Britain.
NetApp Endura will be sponsored by the kitchen appliance manufacturer Bora from 2015 onwards.