Great send-off for Sam Bennett on pro career

Carrick-on-Suir cyclist Sam Bennett got a great send off from his home town as he joined professional outfit NetApp-Endura.

Carrick-on-Suir cyclist Sam Bennett got a great send off from his home town as he joined professional outfit NetApp-Endura.

Carrick-on-Suir cyclist Sam Bennett got a great send off from his home town as he joined professional outfit NetApp-Endura.

Bennett was given a guard of honour by his former team mates in Iverk Carrick Wheelers before embarking on the exciting new stage of his career.

Also present was local cycling legend Sean Kelly who wished Bennett well. Bennett had been a member of Kelly’s An Post-Sean Kelly team.

It has been a great season for the hugely talented Carrick man who was a stage winner in last year’s Tour of Britain.

In addition to his Tour of Britain stage win on Caerphilly Mountain in September, Bennett also took two stages of the An Post Ras this season, all of which has brought the 22-year-old sprinter to the attention of major teams.

NetApp-Endura also announced the signing of Portugal’s Tiago Machado, 27, from RadioShack-Leopard, which will significantly boost the team’s stage race experience.

Both riders join British trio Erick Rowsell, Johnny McEvoy and Scott Thwaites, who continue with the team through the 2014 season.

The squad’s Leopold Konig justified its wildcard invite to the 2013 Vuelta a Espana by taking the win on stage eight and finishing the race in ninth place overall behind winner Chris Horner. The team will be hoping for more wildcard entires to top-tier races during the 2014 season.

“Sam is among the best up-and-coming sprinters in Europe,” said Ralph Denk, NetApp-Endura manager.

“He proved that in impressive style at the Tour of Britain. He will be a valuable addition to our squad of young sprinters.

“Tiago is an experienced tour specialist, and we signed him on specifically for the general classification at shorter stage races. In addition, with his climbing skills, he will provide added support for Leo Konig at the bigger tours.”