After not racing for seven months, Italy's Daniele Bennati – winner of two stages in the 2007 Tour de France – made a strong comeback in the Tour de Romandie prologue by going just 0.027 of a second slower than winner Mark Cavendish. The 27 year-old of Team Liquigas, who was sidelined with knee pains, is building his form for the Giro d'Italia.
"I am left wondering, maybe it would have been better to lose by one second and not this small amount of time," said Bennati to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "I am comforted when I think that this is the first sign of life after suffering for six months of nothing."
The last time Bennati saw competition was in the Vuelta a España's final stage to Madrid, which he won, even though he had fractured his right wrist in a crash during the race's second stage. He also won the stages to Vigo and Talavera de la Reina of the same race. Knee problems delayed his season start until this month with the Giro d'Oro and Giro del Trentino. Now, one week later, he is vying for wins in Switzerland.
"Surely, he will be an adversary to keep a close eye on," 'Benna' continued. "Last year, he did the Tour, but we were never side by side in the sprint. I think he tires a little bit, but he is a good rider, a winner."
The race continues today with a 182.4 kilometre run from Morges to Saignelégier. The stage, with a mountain near the end, will not suit Bennati, who will have better chances with stages two and five.