• George Bennett at the 2019 Vuelta a Espana (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
In an interview with Cyclingnews, George Bennett revealed he 'essentially had three ribs removed' recently to fix a side stitch issue, diagnosed as slipping rib syndrome.
Cycling Central

5 Nov 2019 - 9:43 AM  UPDATED 5 Nov 2019 - 11:44 AM

George Bennett: the Kiwi setting a hard tempo for Kruijswijk at the Tour
We’ve written about him before and explained how George Bennett’s personal results in the Tour de France are strongly affected by the reality that he’s a domestique for the Dutchman in third overall, Steven Kruijswijk. That may be the case, but the Kiwi continues to impress in difficult circumstances.
Bennett the Kiwi flying high on GC
George Bennett, ranked fourth on GC after eight stages, has something many riders at the Tour don’t have: charisma and a sense of humour. He has also suffered an ongoing issue with ‘The Stitch’… but he thinks they’ve found the problem.

Bennett has suffered from the stitch issue, which he nonchalantly described as "stabbing pain', 'for ages" and became more excruciating over the past 12 months. 

"Every time I go hard I get (it)," he told Cyclingnews. "And it slowed me down a lot this year."

This led the 29-year-old to make a serious decision about his future, believing his best is yet to come. 

"I had a big operation a couple of weeks ago and I hope that will help," he said. "The surgery is pretty drastic measures but I've essentially had three ribs removed.

"That makes it sound worse than it is," the Kiwi typically downplayed. "But each one was around eight centimetres long and made up of cartilage.

"I've had a couple of operations before, some exploratory work all hoping to fix the stitch but we're optimistic that we've now found the fix. I almost think that I can ride a bike in a week or so.

"We sat down, talked with the family and my girlfriend, and decided that I'm not halfway through my career and that my best years are still ahead of me. If this works it will open up a lot more doors for me."

Bennett also laments the loss of the Tour of California - at least for 2020 - the stage race he won in 2017 as he sees his own individual chances for stage-race success dwindle with the GC heavy weights now in the Jumbo-Visma stable. 

"The loss of California throws a spanner in the works. The team will prioritise, as they should with Tom (Dumoulin), Primoz (Roglic) and Steven (Kruikjswijk), and I don't see myself as having those opportunities next year.

"Maybe Tour Down Under I will, but I have to adapt and target those races (they) aren't racing. I won't get a shot at a Grand Tour. I know that. They deserve that, and I'm a fan of the best guys getting the best support.

"I feel like I left this year a bit empty-handed. It wasn't bad but I've been frustrated at times. But at the Tour, for example, I had a really good level and it was great to be part of a team that got third, but there's still no results chalked up to my name.

"It's the same at the Vuelta. I was sick, crashed a few times but it was still nice to be part of a team that won. That was amazing but I left without having my own breakthrough."


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