George Bennett has been named on the Tour de France long list by LottoNL-Jumbo. If he is named in the final list of nine riders it will be the first time the New Zealander has lined up for the greatest bike race on the planet.
For 26 year old George Bennett, grand tour experience has been something he cannot be accused of struggling with. In his relatively young career he has ridden and completed the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana three times collectively for three different teams, RadioShack-Leopard in 2013, Cannondale in 2014 and LottoNL-Jumbo in 2015. He has impressed too, particularly as his grand tour experience has developed. He was 4th in an impressive performance in stage 16 of the Vuelta a Espana last year, a race in which he played a very aggressive role in multiple breakaway efforts.
This year though presents him with the possibility of taking to the roads of the biggest race in the world. 14 riders have been named in the team and that will be whittled down to nine in the coming weeks. Bennett is currently racing the Criterium du Dauphiné in the company of compatriots Jack Bauer of Cannondale and Shane Archbold of Bora-Argon18. He has ridden strongly so far in stage 2 and will have further opportunities to shine in stages 5-7 when the road once again heads for the mountains.
Speaking on the team website, Technical Director Nico Verhoeven said, “The team starts in Mont-Saint-Michel with the aim of winning a stage and delivering a strong general classification. Several riders have trained at altitude in Tenerife. Their last preparations will be done in three stage races the Tour de Suisse [which starts on 11th June], the Criterium du Dauphiné [currently ongoing] and the Ster ZLM Toer [starting 15th June]. Several days before the national championships the final nine riders will be announced.”
The long list certainly indicates options with the likes of Robert Gesink – 4th in the Tour de France 2010 – and 25 year old Wilco Kelderman among the stronger GC hopefuls. Spring classics specialist Sep Vanmarcke is also on the long list. He has multiple top ten stage finishes in the Tour, but has yet to win in la Grande Boucle.
The full Tour de France long list for LottoNL-Jumbo is below:
Jos van Emden