Sam Bennett has had a spectacular 2019.

The Carrick-on-Suir road cyclist earned 13 stage wins, including a double victory at the Vuelta a Espana, where he secured the third and 14th stages.

His performances this year have cemented his place as one of the most prolific sprinters around.

At the start of the month he completed a move to Deceuninck-QuickStep after cutting ties with Bora-Hansgrohe.

Bennett signed a two-year contract with the Belgian squad, where he replaces Italian Elia Viviani, and will hope to earn selection for cycling's biggest races.

Born and raised in the same town as Sean Kelly, the quietly spoken 29-year-old feels like he's entering his prime. Now, he's hoping to hit even greater levels with a team he believes is perfectly tailored to help him achieve serious success.

"Deceuninck-Quickstep was one of my dream teams, especially growing up when I was a teenager," he told RTÉ 2fm's Game On.

"I'm coming into my best years. This team is the most winning team in the Vuelta and the (WorldTour) pro peloton for the last five years.

"It was something I definitely wanted to be a part of. It was an opportunity that came around at the right time. I couldn't let it go. I feel like I'm coming to a high level. I really want to get back to the Tour de France; it's a big target of mine.

"Quickstep are more of a sprint team and they look for more stages in races rather than the general classification. For me it's the perfect team. I'm going in as one of their lead sprinters so I'm getting really well looked after.

"I think we're going to work well together."

Bennett left Bora-Hansgrohe as a free agent after missing out on selection for both the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France in 2019. Now, he's eyeing a crack at both of those competitions.

"As I get stronger, the engine is getting bigger. I'm able to be more versatile in the races I can compete in," he added. 

"Every year I look to improve. I'd like to equal or get more than 13 wins this year. I'd really like to go for the Tour de France. Quickstep is a strong team and I'd have to make the cut, but hopefully I'd be able to go there and represent Ireland the best I can.

"In cycling you're only as good as your last race. I just have to show that I'm in form, that I'm not putting on weight, that I'm still performing. 

"It can be hard but it's amazing what the body can adapt to. You train yourself to get used to it. It never really gets easier, you just go faster."

Sean Kelly riding at the 1989 Tour de France

As for the Kelly connection, Bennett admits it took him a while to fully appreciate how great his fellow Tipperary man was.

"When I was younger I didn't really understand who Sean Kelly was," he said.

"It was more when I went abroad and rode the races he did when I was a young rider, and I was struggling to finish some of the races... he'd won some of them seven times.

"To see the level he was at, then he became more of an inspiration to me. He was unbelievable.

"Maybe in the future, hopefully I can be more like Sean in the Classics, but for now I'm looking more at the bunch sprints and stuff like the green jersey in the Tour de France.

"To be there, representing my country, is something I'm very proud to do. I'm just happy to be in this position."