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"But I want to win. To do better than last year is not a lot to demand. I want to return to the highest level, to my level," Bennati tells Gazzetta dello Sport

Photo: Tinkoff-Saxo


31.01.2014 @ 15:37 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Daniele Bennati was once one of the fastest sprinters in the world but in recent years he has settled into a domestique role for riders like Alberto Contador in the grand tours. Despite stressing that the main aim is to win the Tour with Contador, he also has a strong desire to return to his winning ways after a 2013 season that brought no personal successes.


When he sprinted to the win on the Champs-Elysees in the 2007 Tour de France - just 3 days after taking his first ever grand tour stage win - Daniele Bennati seemed to be poised to conquer the sprinting world. Less than a year later he went on to win three stages at the Vuelta a Espana and another three stages and the points jersey at the Giro d'Italia, beating a certain Mark Cavendish a few times in the process.


However, things never panned out as Bennati would have wished. His progress stalled and being plagued by several injuries, he never really found back to his best level. He tried to leave his native Italy and the Liquigas team and enjoyed several years  at Leopard-Trek and Radioshack but only managed to take 7 wins during his two years with the Luxembourg based team.


Bennati won six races in 2011 but in 2012 his only victory was a stage win in the Vuelta a Espana. With his sprinting star having waned, he was signed by Saxo-Tinkoff to fill a completely different role, being one of the leaders in the cobbled classics and guiding the team leader safely through the flat stages in the grand tours. He failed to win a single race the entire season.


While he admits to have found satisfaction in that role and stresses that the main aim is to win the Tour de France with Albert Contador, Bennati insists that he still has personal ambitions as he embarks on the 2014 season.


"But I want to win," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "To do better than last year is not a lot to demand. I want to return to the highest level, to my level."


Bennati was rewarded for his hard work when his team renewed his contract until 2016. He is now training in Gran Canaria with teammates Roman Kreuziger, Manuele Boaro and Nicolas Roche and is hoping to get his season off to a good start.


"Above all, the season starts  well if the condition is good as it is now," he said. Last year I only started to ride in January due to problems with my collarbone fracture sustained in the 2011 Tour de Romandie. Compared to 2013 I am another rider."


Bennati will start his season in the Tour of Qatar and will continue in the Middle East at the Tour of Oman. He will use the Strade Bianche and Tirreno-Adriatico to prepare for the classics and will be the co-leader with Matti Breschel in Milan-Sanremo, E3 Harelbeke, Gent-Wevelgem, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.



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