By Gregor Brown in Bourg-en-Bresse
Daniele Bennati of Lampre-Fondital came close to bagging his first Tour de France stage win Thursday afternoon in Autun. The Italian found the sprinting space too tight and finished third behind Filippo Pozzato (Liquigas) and Oscar Freire (Rabobank). The 26 year-old Italian battles on in the Tour despite pain in his ribs.
"I am not going benissimo," said Bennati to Cyclingnews Friday morning in Semur-en-Auxois. "Yesterday went so so. I was able to win but I was closed out a few times in the sprint and I was not able to remount. Then, in the sprint I was closed out between Pozzato and Freire."
It is easy to spot Bennati in the peloton as his right forearm is bandaged but it his rib cage that is giving him the most problems. "I still have strong pains in my right ribs that prevent me to breathe at my maximum. My arm is all right but not at its best."
'Benna' is keeping his green dream alive and soldiers on towards the next sprint stage, likely stage 10, and a chance at the points overall. "This dream is still a long ways off," he commented of taking the Maillot Vert by Paris. "The others have an advantage with their points but I hope that the next week I will be better."
He and his team-mate, Alessandro Ballan, are getting through the Tour. "He is going well. We are roommates. Ballan is on the Playstation, and we both call our families [daily]. We laugh and joke about."
His wife, Chiara, is at home but will visit the Tour on Sunday. "My wife watches the stages everyday on TV and then Sunday she will come to Tignes to visit me." What did she say about the stage finish to Autun? "No one thought I was going to be up front because I was not going so well, so she was happy for me."