21 Feb 2018

Bennett sets sights on 2 of the Grand Tours

10:05 am on 21 February 2018

The Nelson cyclist George Bennett says he'll concentrate on the grand tours this year and therefore won't defend his Tour of California title.

George Bennett after winning 2017 Tour of California.

George Bennett after winning 2017 Tour of California. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Bennett, who made himself unavailable for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, says his three major goals for the 2018 season are the Giro d'Italia, the Vuelta a España and the World Championships.

He'll skip the Tour de France.

Bennett's race programme has been planned with and by his Dutch Lotto team to ensure he can record his best general classification result to date in a Grand Tour at May's Giro.

He finished tenth overall in the 2016 Vuelta.

Bennett had surgery in December to help him overcome side stitches which he suffered from... since then he's finished 4th in the nationals and 11th in the Tour Down Under.

"It is good to pencil in a bit of a mishap every December, January. It is ideal really," Bennett told Cyclingnews. At the end of the 2016 seasons, Glandular fever also ensured a slower than planned start to the following year's racing.

No caption

Photo: Supplied

Bennett's focus turns to May and his first Giro since 2013. With Steven Kruijswijk and Primoz Roglic headed to the Tour de France, Bennett and Robert Gesink headline LottoNL-Jumbo's general classification aims at the Giro.

"The Giro is 100 per cent GC focus and probably the Vuelta as well at this stage," said Bennett. "That is the plan and I am quite looking forward to starting a Grand Tour as a GC leader and having a bit of a team around me. It looks like a really cool course actually so I am quite excited."

Post-Giro, Bennett will "shut it down", before a "real big build up to the Vuelta and the Worlds" as his goals for the second half of the season.

The hilly World circuit in Innsbruck particularly intriguing to Bennett as the first course since he turned pro that suits his climbing capabilities.

"I am quite excited about the Worlds this year because it has been a while since I have ridden it and it is probably a course you get once a decade or something and the only course, I am not saying I am in contention, but a result for me is top-ten. That would be an amazing result. It is probably the only course I am going to get close to that," he said.

Bennett's first major title was the Tour of California in May last year.