Deceuninck-QuickStep head Patrick Lefevere has continued his criticism of his team’s sprinter Sam Bennett after he missed the Tour de France.
The Belgian had expected Bennett to be fit for the Tour after discussions between the pair. The 26-year-old Irishman had been suffering from a minor injury that kept him out of the Baloise Belgium Tour. However there was confusion and counter-accusation between the two after Bennett dropped out to be replaced at the last minute by 36-year-old Mark Cavendish.
Lefevere appears to have lost patience with his rider and has again called his mental strength into question.
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“I’m the boss. No? Clear? I sent him a message. He said he was on the bike, so I supposed he would call me after but he didn’t call me. So it says a lot more about him than me,” Cyclingnews reported the team boss as saying.
I don’t know if you have a boss but I learnt since I was a kid that the guy who pays you is the boss and he deserves respect. He didn’t show me respect. It’s more a pity for him than it is for me. If you fight like a devil and cry like a child because Bora-Hansgrohe treat you wrong and then after nearly 14 months you sign with the team again it says more about him than it does about me. I have balls, he doesn’t.
Bennett then suggested that future involvement in the team before his contract ends hangs in the balance. He is expected to rejoin Bora Hansgrohe at the end of the season.
“If he behaves himself he will race. If not, then three months less riding and 50 per cent less salary,” he said.
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“The sprint train was for Sam and you can’t change the programme for riders in the last week. That doesn’t work. Everyone has been mentally prepared for months. You can’t say that Mark is less than Sam. He deserves the best leadout.
"He’s different to Sam. First of all Mark’s a lot stronger in the head than Sam. Even when Sam was the fastest he was always doubting about himself. We’ve told Mark that he has nothing to lose. That’s a luxury.
“There are a lot of emotions. Seven, eight months ago he had no team. I picked him up and all these races at the start of the season were cancelled. We brought him to Turkey where nobody wanted to go due to COVID and he wins four stages.
"Then Sam Bennett can’t ride in Belgium and Mark wins the last stage. The decision was taken the days before the Tour that Sam couldn’t ride so we called Mark again. He’s like a super-sub.
“If he doesn’t win no one dies but if he wins it will be super. Four year he’s not been here but if wins then we’ll both be on the throne for a few days.”
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