Daniele Bennati of Team Liquigas, winner of two stages in the 2007 Tour de France, will soon be back racing after a seven-month stop due to a crash in the 2007 Vuelta a España. The 27 year-old Italian sprinter from Arezzo will make his return in the Giro d'Oro, April 20, searching to build form for his new season objectives: the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France.
The last time Bennati saw competition was in the Vuelta's final stage to Madrid, which he won, even though he had fractured his right wrist in a crash during the races second stage. He also won the stages to Vigo and Talavera de la Reina of the same race.
"I had raced almost all of the Vuelta with a fractured right wrist," he confirmed to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "I had stopped for a month and a half to recover, and then I recommenced my preparations. January 1, I felt pain in my left knee. It was like something that had just arrived, and I thought that by February, I would be well and I went to the Canary Islands. However, I had to stop completely for three weeks. It was a ligament inflammation ... Half way though March, I re-started training all over again."
Bennati signed for Team Liquigas this last off-season, but has not yet had a chance to race for his new team due to the knee problem. He was signed to help enforce the Italy-based team with its star Filippo Pozzato, but was forced to miss the first race of the season in South Africa and, more importantly, Milano-Sanremo. Last month, he vowed to be ready for the Giro d'Italia.
"I have 3500 kilometres in the legs, so I am not yet at the top of my condition. But I have the desire to return," he continued. "I miss the battle, the competition. ... I will start in the peloton to regain confidence. I will certainly be behind in my condition, but I have the benefit of being able to find my condition quickly."
In the Giro he will fight for a chance to wear the race leader's maglia rosa with the end-goal of taking the maglia ciclamino of points leader. "I have dreamed of being in the maglia rosa since I was a baby. I was a fan of [Franco] Chioccioli, then I became impassioned with sprints through [Mario] Cipollini. And [Marco] Pantani... unforgettable.
"To win the maglia ciclamino," stated 'Benna' of his goal. "Unfortunately, there are not many sprint stages, and I am sorry there is not a sprint stage this year in Milano. After my win in Paris [during the Tour de France] and Madrid [Vuelta - ed.], Milano would be good."
He will point towards the Tour de France's maglia ciclamino equivalent, the maillot vert. "At the Tour, the green jersey," Benna continued. He revealed that he will have extra motivation come this summer, "At the end of July my baby boy will be born. His name? Francesco."