24 Mar 2020

Bennett not enjoying his forced time indoors

12:43 pm on 24 March 2020

New Zealand cyclist George Bennett has gone online to keep his training up and get a bit of competition during the coronavirus pandemic, but he admits he's not had great success.

George Bennett.

George Bennett Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Bennett is based in Andorra where cycling is currently banned and so he's limited his riding to an indoor trainer.

Under normal circumstances Bennett would be racing in Spain at the moment with the Giro d'Italia and the Olympics his main priority for the year.

The 29 year old Nelsonian told cyclingnews.com that he and his Dutch Jumbo-Visma teammates have been pasing the time with online group riders but the online format doesn't typically lend itself to skinny mountain goats like Bennett.

"I've not managed to crack the top-10 yet in a race, which is kind of depressing. They're hard. It doesn't help living at 2,000 meters but the team has told us that we're not going to be racing for a long time. They've told us not to worry too much about training and not to try and stay too skinny because at some point we're going to have to really lock it down and try to train hard. When that happens we're really going to need bullets for that moment. So we're doing what we can do try and make it fun.

"I'm up here with a few boys in my building and we're trying to do what we can to make it passable because normally for me the trainer is something that's reserved for when it's literally unrideable outside but the team have been awesome. They're focused on our mental and physical wellbeing and they're encouraging us to put cycling to the back of our minds as we ride this out."

One of the biggest challenges is dealing with the levels of uncertainty surrounding the virus and the longevity of some of the measures that have been put in place by authorities. Bennett still has ten days of lockdown to go but there's also a realistic chance that those restrictions could be extended for a much longer period.

"At the moment we're locked inside for ten more days but the realistic outcome will come if we're told that we might have to be in lockdown for another month or six weeks. That's when we might be better trying to get home. There's a lot that comes with going home, it's not as easy as just getting on a plane," he says.

George Bennett in action for Jumbo-Visma

George Bennett in action for Jumbo-Visma Photo: Photo News

Bennett is working towards a June return but he knows that this could be overturned. However, it's about remaining upbeat, positive, and ready to race should get the call.

"You want to try and focus on other things but if you're not optimistic then you wouldn't be a great pro cyclist. The best case scenario is that we're racing in June but if you think that it's August but you do end up racing in June then you know it's going to be a complete dogfight. It's going to be a really scrappy season and if you're not ready in June then you're going to really struggle. I'm going to get myself ready for June."

"Something like the Giro was a massive opportunity for me. They handed me a leadership role and I know there's some talk of the Giro starting in late May but there's no chance of that happening. I doubt the Olympics will happen and we might have a Tour de France in August. It's going to be really messy and it's going to be interesting to see how people come out of this. Some are naturally talented but some need to shut things down and train really hard.

"We'll remember these times for the rest of our lives. The truth is you can be disappointed about races being cancelled but still respect the rules. There are millions of people locked in their homes right now."