Daniele Bennati has been confirmed as the new coach of the Italian elite men’s national team. He takes over from Davide Cassani, who had served as commissario tecnico since 2014.
Bennati’s appointment was announced by the Italian federation on Tuesday as part of an overhaul of its sporting structure following the election of Cordiano Dagnoni as president.
Former Liquigas manager Roberto Amadio will hold the title of manager of the Italian national teams with responsibility for overseeing the entire road structure, while Luciano Fusarpoli will oversee the track structure.
"I’m very happy and proud to take on the role of commissario tecnico," Bennati said at the presentation in Milan on Tuesday morning.
"It’s a very important role with high expectations. We have won four European road titles in the last years, but we know the most important appointment is at the World Championships, and we haven’t won that since 2008. I’ll do the best I can to help bring that rainbow jersey back to Italy."
Italy's elite men claimed four European road titles in four years under Cassani's stewardship – through Matteo Trentin, Elia Viviani, Giacomo Nizzolo and Sonny Colbrelli – but the squadra azzurra has not won the elite men's Worlds road race since Alessandro Ballan's victory in Varese in 2008. Filippo Ganna has won the past two elite men's time trial titles.
The 41-year-old Bennati spent 18 seasons in the professional peloton with Aqua e Sapone, Phonak, Lampre, Liquigas, Leopard Trek, Tinkoff and Movistar. A rapid sprinter, he won stages in all three Grand Tours before spending the latter part of his career in the service of leaders such as Alberto Contador and Nairo Quintana.
"He was the road captain at those teams later in his career, so he has a bit of experience and all the qualities required," said Amadio, who was Bennati's manager during his time at Liquigas.
Since hanging up his wheels in 2019, Bennati has been a pundit on RAI television’s cycling coverage. He becomes the 16th man to serve as commissario tecnico of the Italian team, following fellow Tuscans Alfredo Martini, Franco Ballerini and Paolo Bettini in the role.
Cassani had served as coordinator of all Italian national teams during his tenure as commissario tecnico, whereas Bennati will have responsibility solely for the elite men’s road team.
Bennati will be assisted by Marco Velo, who will be the coach of the Italian elite men’s time triallists, and Mario Scirea, who will also liaise with under-23 coach Marino Amadori.
Marco Villa, who guided the Italian men’s team pursuit squad to gold at the Tokyo Olympics, will remain as commissario tecnico of the elite men’s track team and will now also take charge of the elite women’s track squad.
Dino Salvoldi, previously manager of the women’s teams on road and track, will now coach the junior men’s team. Paolo Sangalli takes over as coach of the elite women’s road squad, while Rossella Callovi is the new coach of the junior women. Callovi becomes the first women to be formally appointed as head coach of a national team by the Italian federation.
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