Deceuninck - Quick-Step team boss Patrick Lefevere has once again taken aim at Sam Bennett, following the Irishman’s decision to ride the road race at the European Championships this weekend.
Bennett, who will join Bora-Hansgrohe at the end of the season, missed this year’s Tour de France and has not raced since early May due to a knee injury.
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Relations between the pair have soured severely, with the Deceuninck - Quick-Step CEO using his column in Flemish newspaper, Het Nieuwsblad to question the severity of the Irishman’s injury. It has also been reported he is in the process of cutting the rider’s salary by half.
Bennett has not spoken publicly about his relationship with Lefevere, but his decision to race for Ireland in Italy this weekend appears to have inflamed tensions.
"Anyone who knows me knows that I never do that [cut pay], but here the rider is acting in bad faith. He no longer uploads training files and he does not want to be operated on," Lefevere wrote.
Adding to Lefevere’s ire is the fact that Sunday’s road race is unsuited to Bennett, a sprinter, as the 179.2km course includes 12 climbs.
"Apparently all the tricks of the trade are at work," Lefevere added. "A course with 4,000 metres of elevation...
"What he's doing now is playing with my balls in public. He has also already sent a letter to the UCI to complain that I have tackled him in the media. It will not work. I'm going to take him back until the steam comes out of his ears."
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