George Bennett is taking a long-term approach to his cycling future, but short-term success is still a distinct possibility.

Bennett is ramping up for a crack at the Vuelta a España in three weeks, after his promising Tour de France campaign was cut short by a virus.

The 27-year-old was on track for a top 15 finish at the Tour - the best ever by a New Zealand cyclist - before being forced to pull out with five stages remaining.

The virus limited his training for several weeks, with Bennett only now managing to get back into training before he participates in the Clásica de San Sebastián overnight.


"It's been two weeks since I pulled out and I haven't finished a training since, most of the time I'd turn around, go home and have a sleep," Bennett told Radio Sport.

"Yesterday I managed to do a couple of hours easy and decided to kick things back off - I feel 100 times better."

Bennett doesn't have grand plans for the one-day, 231 kilometre race, but is hoping it can kick-start his build-up for the Vuelta, one of cycling's three Grand Tours.

"[The San Sebastian is] a strange race, you never know which way you're going to go. I'm not expecting much, but I'm also going to give it the jandal if I feel good.

"I'm a long way from fitness but I've also done so much in my legs that it won't take much to get it back."

Last year's Vuelta saw Bennett finish 10th, in the process becoming the highest placed New Zealand rider in the history of the grand tours.

If he returns to full fitness, Bennett shapes as contender in what will be a strong field, but notes that his LottoNL-Jumbo are also taking the next portion of the year as a period for investment.

"Even if I'm not in good form [at the Vuelta], we're still trying to do it to get the experience in, and just work on a few things which we can bring to the Tour de France.

"There's so many things that I need to practice in a Grand Tour if I'm going to take them to France properly. Being consistent every day, keeping good time trials, keeping good positions, staying out of the wind, and also building a team and building guys that we can work with. Guys that can kill themselves for you is a real special thing which doesn't just happen overnight."

At the Tour, LottoNL-Jumbo had six riders working for sprinter Dylan Groenewegen, limiting the amount of teammates who could help Bennett in the mountains. While Groenewegen won the Tour's final stage, Bennett says they are trying to find a better balance on both fronts.

"We're working out how we're going to use those in the Tour de France, and maybe shrinking one side of it and building up another, and getting guys who can do a bit of both. Just getting a clearer line that both sprinters and climbers can excel in the same team.

"We have something that can work well and we need to find out how to make it compete with the best."

With a slew of top riders taking part in the Vuelta, we should get another glimpse of how Bennett fares against the world's elite.