New Zealand cycling ace George Bennett set for return at Road Cycling Championships after surgery

  • 03/01/2018
George Bennett is returning from surgery to repair blockages in his stomach.
George Bennett is returning from surgery to repair blockages in his stomach. Photo credit: Photosport

Having side-stitch is never pleasant for any runner or rider but imagine having it through your entire professional cycling career?

One of New Zealand's top cyclists, George Bennett, hopes the days of having a continual stitch are over, following surgery to cure blockages in a ligament in his abdomen.

The surgery came after exhaustive tests in Europe recently to find the root of the problem for the Nelson rider.

Bennett will take the start line at the New Zealand Road Cycling Championships in Napier, starting January 5, to kickstart his comeback after a Christmas break with family.

He will be one to watch in the 171km men's road race on January 7.

"I've been back on the bike a week although I did train quite hard before the surgery," he said.

"The first intensive exercise will be at the nationals, but we just don't know what will happen. If it is successful then it would be life-changing."

Bennett has opted out of the time trial to get himself as ready as possible for the road race, a title he has never won.

"While there are the World Tour guys racing, anyone can win the nationals if they prepare well and get it right. I am coming in without any ambitions really and will just try to race smart.

"The nationals are a good thing for us to do. I enjoy it and I want to support it."

The 27-year-old enjoyed a breakthrough 2017, showing off his allround capabilities.

Early season top-10 finishes on general classification at Abu Dhabi and the Volta Catalunya led to his outstanding yellow jersey victory in the Tour of California, where he was also third in the points and sixth in mountain categories.

In Napier, Bennett joins fellow World Tour riders Jack Bauer, Tom Scully, Alex Frame and Sam Bewley on the start line.