22 Dec 2016

Glandular fever keeps Bennett low after top season

10:22 am on 22 December 2016

The Nelson cyclist George Bennett is enjoying an extended break after his most succesful season on the world stage.

The European-based professional became the first New Zealander to finish in the top ten in a grand tour, when he finished 10th on the Tour of Spain.

Nelson cyclist George Bennett.

Nelson cyclist George Bennett. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

He was also 7th in the Tour of California and competed at the Rio Olympics.

The 26 year old is 1 point 8 metres tall, but in the middle of the season weighs just 58 kilograms.

That helps a rider like him who can be on his bike for more than 5 hours a day for 3 weeks during a big tour.

Bennett says it can be as painful as it looks, but it is worth it.

"That's the question I ask myself, especially when it's early in the season in Spain and it's -5 degrees and it's raining and you're crashing and sick."

"But I think that actually makes it a bit more special, it's not necessarily the sense of achievement.... I know it may sound a bit sick to those that don't compete, but just being able to hurt yourself that much and be able to go through something like that, I find it quite medative and quite soothing."

Nelson cyclist George Bennett.

Nelson cyclist George Bennett. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Bennett, who rides for the Dutch LottoNL-Jumbo team, admits he does get a hard time about how light he is.

"It isn't uncommon to be under 60kg for a general classification rider who has to be able to excel on the hills."

"It's all about power to weight ratio when you're climbing the hills and so the lighter you are the faster you go."

Unfortunately for Bennett he's currently laid low with glandular fever and so won't race in New Zealand this summer.

It means he won't ride the Nationals or the Tour Down Under in Australia.

Bennett says while it may not appear major, it is of concern to him as it has ended the professional careers of some riders.

"The teams being very cautious and basically taken my bike off me and taken a few races off my calender and making sure I'm sitting at home going slightly crazy."

"I think long term it's for the best, It's written off my New Zealand summer, but time the Tour de France comes around next year I'll be ready to go."