Deceuninck-QuickStep boss Patrick Lefevere has said that Sam Bennett returning to Bora-Hansgrohe is like a 'woman who still returns home after domestic abuse'.
The 66-year-old made the astonishing comments in his latest column in Het Nieuwsblad.
The appalling remarks were made as Lefevere compared the mental fortitude of a number of riders he had worked with in the past, to those in his line up today.
Bennett, 30, has raced on Lefevere’s team for the last two seasons and the Irish sprinter won the Tour de France Green jersey in 2020.
However, a knee injury left him unable to race at this years' Tour and at the time Lefevere seemed to cast doubt on whether Bennett's problem was genuine, claiming, 'I'm starting to think more and more that it's more fear of failure than just pain.'
It is likely that Bora-Hansgrohe will announce Bennett’s arrival in the next few weeks.
Writing in his column this week, Lefevere said: “I’ve never had mentally unstable riders in my team, but there were definitely ‘special ones’. Rémi Cavagna is not a nervous guy - his hobby is fishing - but sometimes stress gets to him.
"Some people say that Remco Evenepoel can’t handle a bike, but at the beginning, Rémi was afraid to even take a bottle or even raise his hands when he won.
"It’s all between the ears. Tim Declercq is a really intelligent guy, but he ‘choked’ when he has to ride for himself."
Lefevere then claimed Bennett is the 'pinnacle of mental weakness' following the Irishman's decision to return to Bora-Hansgrohe next year.
He continued: “Last but not least there is Sam Bennett. For me he’s the pinnacle of mental weakness.
“Leaving Bora and telling everybody about how he was ‘bullied’ and almost depressed and bankrupt but then to return fourteen months later. It’s the same as women who still return home after domestic abuse."
Lefevere wrote his column on mental stress.
“To me Sam Bennett is the peak of mental weakness.
Telling everyone he got bullied at Bora, that he almost was depressed and bankrupt but then return after 14 months, is like the woman who returns home after domestic abuse.” pic.twitter.com/4zx5U0qjyB
— José Been (@TourDeJose) July 31, 2021
The Belgian made the comments in the same week that Simone Biles announced her decision to withdraw from the gymnastics at the Olympics so she could focus on her mental health.
It also follows the return, and subsequent success of Tom Dumoulin in the men's time trial after he took time out from the sport to recalibrate.