Sam Bennet is Open and Honest in Latest Interview
2020 Tour de France green jersey winner Sam Bennet recently took part in a revealing interview, where he laid bare some of the struggles within the professional cycling world.
The Irishman highlighted a propensity to obsess over performance data, and acknowledged the threat of becoming disenchanted from both the act of riding a bike and from day-to-day life.
The 31-year-old had a very public fall out with Deceuninck-QuickStep boss Patrick Lefevere back in the summer after a disagreement over his knee injury, which saw Mark Cavendish come back into the team during state 3 of the Tour de France. Bennet returned to former team Bora-Hansgrohe as a result, and has kept a relatively low profile until now, where an interview with his team has revealed some of the trials and tribulations of modern professional cycling.
The inundation of science and performance data in the past 15-20 years has certainly altered the lifestyles of professional sportspeople, and in particular cyclists. Some have struggled to come to terms with a regime governed by data. Bennett, however, appears happy with it, although he did acknowledge the sport “has gone so scientific now that I feel that I’m not riding a bike anymore, I’m often just chasing numbers.”
“You start training in the off-season and of course it’s hard in the beginning but the best motivator is when you see results, when you see the data in training and then you just get hooked because you can see form growing and different aspects of your fitness growing,” he said.
“That’s something that’s encouraging. I’m always chasing numbers, but it keeps it interesting. It’s something that I quite enjoy.”
He did however go on to comment on the dangers of the current obsession with statistics, saying it can often be hard to switch off while away from the bike.
“I get so focused on cycling and cycling takes up so much of my life, that I forget every other aspect of life,” he said.
“Normally I go for a drive, I’m a big petrolhead, or anything to do with wheels. I just try to get out of the house or apartment or wherever I may be, because I’m often stuck in the old-school cycling mentality where I have to be off my feet. So once I’m not training or doing something productive towards cycling, I try to rest, but that’s often not the best thing to clear the head, so I have to try to get out and do more normal stuff, I think.”
Now back at Bora-Hansgrohe, Bennet has set his sights on returning to the highest level, with the Milan-San Remo and the World Championships road race thought to be major objectives this year. However, returning to the Tour de France will be a huge moment for the Irishman after a very successful 2020, and subsequently missing out through injury during last year’s iteration.