Is George Bennett finally back?

It’s coming, he says after his impressive finale in Italy today.

What’s a winning mentality?

One answer can be found by following George today in the last stage of the Giro d’Abruzzo, where he climbed onto the podium having finished third overall.

We take you right to the scene in our race car mid-race. Approaching the downhill before the HC categorized climb, IPT’s Israeli DS radioed George and asked if he was ready to make a decisive move to shake up the race.

Bennett never hesitated: “Let’s make it hard on everyone!”

He later explained that it was an easy call: “This was my mindset as well as the whole team’s this morning. I was sitting in fourth place overall so gaining or losing wasn’t going to change my life. I felt that I had good legs, so let’s go!”

The team backed him right up. The young Israeli, Rotem Tene, led the charge in the descent, Derek Gee set the pace on the first part of the climb, and then there was the on-fire Matthew Riccitello, who joined forces from the day’s breakaway and decimated most of the peloton right there.

The move was all that Bennett needed. Soon he found himself charging to the finish, 40 kilometers away. Unfortunately, the only two who were able to keep up were his biggest rivals, leader Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) and Pavel Sivakov (UAE Team Emirates).

He knew he was at a significant disadvantage. Lutsenko did not have to win to secure his overall victory, and Sivakov was super fresh.

But Bennett, true to form, tried to initiate attacks and charged ahead to the finish line, launching his sprint first only to be overtaken by Sivakov who won the stage.

Bennett felt the satisfaction of knowing “that the team and myself did everything we could.” Nothing was spared.

This notion was shared by our trio of sports directors, Dror Pekatch, Ruben Plaza, and Lahav Davidzon.

Pekatch said, “The whole squad was totally committed, including our young Israeli riders from the Academy (Tene, Aviv Bental, and Emry Feingzicht) who showed significant progress here, Derek Gee, Riccitello, and of course, George. It’s great to see him back as a leader. He is a great asset to the team in this role.”

Last word to George who finished on the podium of a stage race for the first time after two long years.

It’s been hard,” he said regarding that long period. “Coming to this team, they all told me that it would take time, you don’t get straight back from nothing to winning.”

He will go from here to race in the Ardennes classics, and he is excited about it. “Racing is a confidence game, and I am gaining it.”

So is George Bennett back?

He gave us a kiwi smile: “Not yet. For that, you will have to wait for the summer when I will hopefully be at my best.