Nelson cyclist George Bennett may have produced some top results on the world pro tour this season but he isn’t expecting any favours from his Dutch team LottoNL-Jumbo next year.
George, who is back in Nelson for some hard-earned R and R, finished seventh on a stage in his first Tour de France before recording a gritty 10th in the Vuelta a Espana in a breakthrough year on the pro tour. He also finished seventh in the Tour of California and 14th in the Criterium du Dauphine, signalling that he is ready to make the step from riding as a domestique, helping team leaders, to a general classification (GC) contender.
However, George says he still expects to be riding for the team’s stars next year and will have to wait patiently for a chance to lead his team in a grand tour.
“We still have big talents like Robert Gesink and Steve Kruiswijk. I might be able to get top 10 in a Grand Tour but these guys can win it so I’m sure I’ll end up in the domestique role next year.
“I think I can have a team riding for me in the smaller races like the Tour Down Under and Tour of California but it’s unlikely I will get the chance to ride GC in a Grand Tour. I’ll probably have to wait another year or two to get that opportunity.”
George says he will also need to improve his individual time trialling to be a genuine contender for the general classification. The LottoNL-Jumbo team management have instructed George to train on his race time trial bike during the off-season to try and improve his speed.
George says the highlights of the season, that featured “nearly 100 race days”, were riding in his first Tour de France and Olympics and finishing 10th in the Vuelta. However, George says, at the time the Tour de France was a stressful and, after his spectacular crash in stage 11, sometimes painful experience which he didn’t enjoy.
“I suffered from my crash for a long time after that. I cracked my helmet in half and smashed my teeth up a bit – I remember looking up and seeing a medic and thinking ‘that was pretty fast’ but then I realised I’d had a little sleep for a minute or two.
“I had serious headaches for a few days after that. If it was any other race you’d go home but you don’t want to leave the Tour de France unless you are on a stretcher.”
George resumed training this week after almost a month off the bike and says his next assignment will be the Tour Down Under in January.