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Daniele Bennati (RadioShack-Nissan)
Italian sprinter has final time trial in mind
Daniele Bennati (RadioShack-Nissan) is harbouring ambitions of putting himself within striking distance of the maglia rosa during the Giro d’Italia prologue on Saturday, although the Italian insisted that he is not among the main favourites for the short time trial in Herning.
Nominally a sprinter, the Tuscan has produced some strong performances against the watch in recent seasons. In 2011, he won the time trial at Circuit de la Sarthe, while this season he was second only to his teammate Fabian Cancellara in the concluding time trial of Tirreno-Adriatico.
“I’m certainly thinking about the prologue, even if I have to admit that I don’t think I’m among the top, top favourites,” Bennati told Gazzetta dello Sport. “I’m not just saying that out of superstition: I’m not a super specialist like Rasmussen or Phinney, who are the first two names that spring to mind. But I will say that I’ve been using my time trial bike quite a bit recently, and I’ve done some specific work on it in the last few days. The prologue is certainly in my plans; maybe not to win it, but I’ll certainly not want to lose too much time.”
Bennati’s time trialling ambitions at the Giro will not necessarily be restricted to the 8.7km test in Denmark. Already the winner of the final stages of the Tour de France and Vuelta a España, Bennati is looking to complete the full set at the Giro, even though the race hasn’t finished with a road stage in Milan since 2007.
“The Giro hasn’t ended with a sprint stage in a few years, so if I want to equal that record as it were, I’d have to do the time trial full on,” Bennati said. “I think the last stage in Milan is around 32km and if I get there in good condition and without being too drained from the mountain stages, then I want to have a go at least. I’ll be up against time triallists who are better than me on paper, but you never know what condition they’ll be in at the end of a three-week tour.”
Bennati approaches the Giro still searching for form after a bout of food poisoning laid him low at the tail end of the cobbled classics, but he is hopeful that he will be at his best by stages 10 and 11, as the race passes through Umbria and Tuscany.
“I took a week off completely after Paris-Roubaix and now I’m just finding my rhythm again,” he said. “I probably won’t be very, very sharp in the first couple of stages, but the Giro is such a long race there are so many opportunities that there is time to recover as we go on.
“On paper, the stage to Assisi might seem a bit too tough for my characteristics, but I’ll go and check out the finale. Then of course, the next day, the stage passes through my own area in Arezzo on the way to the finish at Montecatini, so they’re certainly two stages I have marked in red.”