George Bennett experienced the disappointment of fourth place and missing out on the podium, but he also had the benefit of not suffering from any stitches during the race for the first time in a long time for the LottoNL-Jumbo rider.
It was so pleasing to see George Bennett right at the sharp end of the race after nearly 171km in the saddle. Bennett was in many ways responsible for the formation of the final group that would contest the win in the elite men’s road race at the BDO New Zealand Cycling Championships in Napier as he attacked repeatedly in the closing laps to draw out Michael Torckler, Jason Christie and Hayden McCormick; before Torckler’s big solo move. Then when Torckler made his move Bennett put in a big turn to try and bridge across.
Speaking of that effort Bennett said, “It was pretty painful. He was going way too fast, I figured that out early on when I tried to get across to him and was doing pretty good power by my standards and he was pulling away from me. He was either going to win or explode and he exploded and it was still a super strong ride by him.”
Torckler was swept in on the final lap and though the sprint finish was ominous and approaching Bennett hadn’t burnt through all his matches just yet, trying to pull away and avoid the group sprint. “I gave it all I had on the last climb, but didn’t gap them by enough. I thought I could do some actual damage on the last climb of Shakespeare Road but in the headwind I couldn’t shake them and once it’s a sprint . . .”
The term ‘multi-faceted’ is possibly best used to describe the race today. So much happened over the course of the day that even Bennett struggles to get around the race he was a part of! “I can’t really remember what happened which is quite terrible. At some point there were that many different groups with that many different breakaways,” Bennett said. “People came, people went and I’m trying to think how it eventuated! But it was a full gas race all day, credit to everybody out there, everyone put it on the line. I wasn’t that strong today, but I just picked the groups perfectly every time. Now that I’m 4th I’m disappointed with 4th, but the other guys were just better today.”
The major plus of the day was all to do with George’s condition. The stitch which has been such a major issue throughout seasons past was one thing he really wanted to put to the test following surgery late last year. The result . . . . . . “It was really positive I didn’t get the stitch which was exciting,” George said. “I’m hesitant to say it’s gone, because [the racing] was on-off, on-off all day and I didn’t spend a long period of time just hurting, but I’m definitely optimistic that it’s progress. I thought I felt it coming at one stage, but it never really did so I’m pretty happy with how it went. I survived the first run anyway.”
We hope that the problems that have plagued George before are now well and truly gone, and that the LottoNL-Jumbo can build from here into a highly successful 2018.