George Bennett heading back to virus-ravaged Europe after winning NZ road race title

In what's become the new normal for New Zealand's leading professional cyclist, George Bennett is on the move again with the spectre of Covid-19 never far away.

After a month in the safe haven of Nelson, on Sunday Bennett achieved his Kiwi dream of winning a first national road race title.

Bennett claimed top honours hours before a new lockdown hit New Zealand but now Europe awaits, with the 30-year-old flying back there tonight to face all its challenges – both on and off the track.

“[Covid-19] definitely made it a lot harder to get on the plane,” Bennett said.

“When you know what you're going back to.”

Last year, Bennett spent weeks in hard lockdown in Spain and Andorra, lived in a Tour de France bubble, celebrated Christmas Day in isolation back here and now he's flying back to a barrage of tests before he gets on the bike in France.

“I'm really grateful I had a chance to take a break from it,” Bennett said.

“A lot of guys didn't - a lot of guys didn't get to come home.”

Bennett races in the Paris to Nice race in just two weeks.