Sean Kelly talks Sam Bennett and the Tour, Sagan, Sanremo

Posted on: June 20th, 2018

Sean Kelly Sam Bennett Milan-Sanremo

Sean Kelly believes Sam Bennett’s climbing display at the Giro was very impressive and that QuickStep changed its whole approach to cope with the Irish rider. He also says Bennett can now target races like Milan-Sanremo.


Sam Bennett can target Milan-Sanremo says Sean Kelly


Sean Kelly has said Sam Bennett would be better not riding the Tour de France. And he believes the Giro triple stage winner should now count himself in for bigger races.

Kelly believes Milan-Sanremo in particular is a classic Bennett should now seriously consider trying to win having climbed as well as he did in the Giro.

Bennett’s stage victory into Imola was beyond sprinting, said Kelly; the finale proving too difficult for other sprinters.

And even when riders were away at the very end, Bennett took it upon himself to make sure to catch them.

He did so to win, with Kelly saying that victory bodes very well for races like Milan-Sanremo.

“It was a real confident ride in the final, you could see that,” he told stickybottle. “After already getting his first win, he had gained that confidence.

“But you could also see on some of the other stages he was much more confident in the climbs that the other sprinters.


Sean Kelly Sam Bennett Milan-Sanremo

Sean Kelly Sam Bennett Milan-Sanremo

Sean Kelly Sam Bennett Milan-Sanremo


Kelly continued: “And even from the time he was with us (An Post-Chainreaction), at the Tour of Britain, for example, he was able to get over the climbs better than the other good sprinters.

“Into Imola we also saw him riding away for a bit off the front; I was think to myself ‘what in the name of God is he at’,” laughed Kelly.

“But he was just keeping out of trouble in the rain up the front. I think you could definitely relate (the final into Imola) to something like Milan-Sanremo.

“If he could get over the last climb into Imola that day, he could get over the Poggio in Sanremo; that’s for sure.”

Kelly said the Vuelta later in the year could be another major race in Bennett’s career.

“With the Tour; the team obviously has Sagan as well as Bennett and the Tour is a race he is doing this year.”

But Sean Kelly said not riding the Tour de France shouldn’t be regarded as any big blow to Bennett; not his year anyway.

And he also believed having Bennett and Peter Sagan in the same Bora-hansgrohe line-up at a future Tour should not be a problem for the team.

“After the Giro has had, if he could go to the Vuelta and knock off a stage or two; well that would be a dream season for him,” Kelly said of Bennett.

“And then next year you look at Tour; would the team put him into it? With Sam, he is a confidence rider. And maybe if he went to the Tour now after the Giro, he may not be ready.

“At the same time the other sprinters will be rested and ready. And if he was beaten a few times; maybe that would knock his confidence.

“Next year, getting to a Tour would be important. I wouldn’t see any major problem from the team in terms of putting him in the Tour with Sagan.”

Kelly said Bennett has grown in stature so much in recent years the QuickStep team changed its whole approach to deal with him at the Giro.


Bennett’s growing reputation

The retired pro turned commentator said Bennett was beaten for the early stage wins by Viviani because the Italian had done a lot more racing in the lead in to the Giro.

Viviani, he added, had been flying since the start of the year and was “unbeatable”.

“But when Sam got going he was the fastest, and QuickStep could see that,” said Kelly.

“They fooled around with him every day; they stayed back with Viviani and then had one, two guys on his wheel. Then they tried to crowd out Sam; to make it difficult for him.”

Kelly said QuickStep more or less abandoned its traditional “big lead out train”, opting to mix it up with different approaches simply because they knew Bennett was fastest and they had to find a way to beat  him.