Daniele Bennati (Leopard Trek) was agonisingly close to taking his first win of the season at Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday, but in spite of the strong showing in Belgium he will not line up in the remainder of the spring classics.
The Italian sprinter had been not initially pencilled in to ride the Tour of Flanders or Paris-Roubaix in order to allow him to prepare for the Giro d’Italia. However, his recent strong showings could well have prompted a rethink, were it not for the fears that the effects of the pavé might have on a nagging Achilles tendon injury.
“I’m very sorry, because these races fascinate me and because I’d have liked to have been of help to Cancellara,” Bennati told Gazzetta dello Sport. “Even on Sunday after the race we had a meeting with the heads of the team. They asked me if I was really certain that I wasn’t riding [the rest of the classics]. With a heavy heart I said I was. I’ll ride the Circuit de la Sarthe and the Tour of Romandie, and you’ll see me at the Giro.”
Bennati battled an injured right Achilles tendon in his final two seasons at Liquigas, and consequently limited his racing on the cobbles.
“Nobody is able to provide me with the certainty that the tendon wouldn’t inflame as a result of the vibrations of the pavé,” Bennati said. “At the end of the season we’ll see if it might be a case of having some special therapy or an operation. But first they must guarantee me that the solution would be definitive.”
So close in Wevelgem
Bennati clocked up his fifth second place finish of the campaign at Gent-Wevelgem, after being pipped by Tom Boonen in a thrilling sprint. The Italian maintains that he was unfortunate to have to come around the captured breakaway Ian Stannard (Sky) in the closing straight.
Perhaps more significantly, Bennati did not have the same level of support as Boonen in the finale, as he was Leopard Trek’s sole finisher.
“It needed Stannard to slow me down, but sprints are made up of [such] episodes,” Bennati said. “On Sunday I had something more than Boonen, but he had a great Steegmans to help him. My teammates had also ridden the previous day at Harelbeke and were great, but at 70km from the line, they were tired.”
Bennati also insisted that he had no regrets about tackling Gent-Wevelgem instead of riding the Volta a Catalunya, where he would have had several opportunities to open his account for the season.
“With all respect to the people who won in Spain, I think that I would have succeeded in bringing something home from there,” he said. “However, I prefer a second place in Gent-Wevelgem to a victory in Catalonia. On Sunday, I set out determined and after a long time, I almost felt like the real Bennati.”