Bennati at the 2007 Entega Grand Prix.
|Full name||Daniele Bennati|
24 September 1980 |
|Height||1.84 m (6 ft 0 in)|
|Weight||73 kg (161 lb)|
|Current team||Team Tinkoff-Saxo|
|Acqua e Sapone-Cantina Tollo
|Infobox last updated on
5 January 2014
Daniele Bennati (born 24 September 1980) is an Italian road racing cyclist specializing in fast sprint finishes. He currently rides for UCI ProTeam Team Tinkoff-Saxo. He turned professional in 2002, when he joined the team Acqua e Sapone-Cantina Tollo and wore zebra stripes as part of Mario Cipollini’s leadout train. Upon joining the Lampre-Caffita team in 2005, he demonstrated the ability to win on his own, and has continued to do so since joining Liquigas in 2008. He is an excellent sprinter, and has won 11 stages in Grand Tours (two in the Tour de France, three in the Giro d'Italia, and six in the Vuelta a España). He won the points jersey in the 2007 Vuelta a España. In 2008 he also won the points jersey in the Giro d'Italia.
Bennati was born at Arezzo, Tuscany, into a family of cyclists. His father did well as an amateur, and his brother raced as a junior. Daniele entered and won his first race at the age of 9. As an amateur he raced in the Grassi Mapei team, and won a stage of the Giro delle Regioni.
2002–03 At the side of Mario Cipollini
At the age of 21 Bennati turned pro and joined the Acqua & Sapone team of the successful Italian sprinter Mario Cipollini. Bennati soon showed an ability to sprint of his own: in March 2002, he finished second in a stage of the Settimana internazionale di Coppi e Bartali (behind Alessandro Petacchi). He took his first victory in June at the Tour of Austria, and he took another one two months later at the Regio-Tour. He was an important part of “The Lion King’s” leadout train: alongside Guido Trenti, Mario Scirea, Martin Derganc and Giovanni Lombardi, he helped Cipollini to some of his fourteen victories that year. When Cipollini dropped out of the Vuelta a España, Bennati received his team’s support and managed his first strong result in a Grand Tour sprint stage, 5th at the stage twelve finishing in Burgos. A few days later, he dropped out of the race too.
In 2003, Bennati stayed with the same team, although it had changed sponsors and was now called Domina Vacanze. As his stature grew, Bennati was seen at Cipollini’s side in the Lion King’s favorite Italian races. In the Grand Tours, Cipollini followed his usual practice of dropping out when the road went up, which gave Bennati a chance to race for himself – he was second to Alessandro Petacchi in one of the stages of the Giro d'Italia. His two wins for the year came in stages of the Tour Méditerranéen (in February) and in the Tour of Poland (in September).
2004: A difficult season
At the end of 2003, Bennati signed a contract with the Phonak team. However, his year in the Swiss team was spoiled by a virus that forced him to drop out of Tirreno–Adriatico, and was followed by a recovery of several months. He did not get any victories during that season. In 2005, he signed a contract with the Italian team Saeco, which then merged with Lampre to form Lampre-Caffita, a larger team that designed to compete in the UCI ProTour.
2005–2006 Lampre – the breakout years
At Lampre, Bennati grew from a promising domestique into a top sprinter. This transition was not instantaneous: early in 2005, he finished sprints behind both his old leader Cipollini, and a teammate (Bonomi). Nevertheless, he accumulated a number of good finishes (5th in a stage of Tirreno–Adriatico, 28th at Milan – San Remo). His first important result was in Gent–Wevelgem, where he outsprinted Thor Hushovd and Fabian Cancellara for 3rd place (behind the breakaway of Nico Mattan and Juan Antonio Flecha). He tested positive to Betamethasone after the race, but was only handed a warning by the Italian Cycling Federation. A few weeks later, Bennati won the Giro di Toscana. He did not compete in the Giro d'Italia (where Lampre concentrated on the overall victory with Gilberto Simoni and Damiano Cunego), nor did he ride the Tour de France. In August, however, he shone. He won three stages and the points jersey in the Tour of Germany, and had good placings in important races such as the Grand Prix de Plouay (4th), the Coppa Placci (5th), and the Giro di Romagna (2nd). September brought two more stage victories in the Tour of Poland. Thanks to these results, he was chosen for the Italian national team that competed in the Madrid World Championships (this was not considered a successful race for the Italians; the leader, Paolo Bettini, finished 13th). At the season’s close, Bennati was ranked 28th in the UCI Pro Tour standings, and had become a rider to watch.
During the off-season, Bennati’s team changed its secondary sponsor, becoming Lampre-Fondital, and signed another promising Italian sprinter, Danilo Napolitano, setting up a competition for the top sprinter’s spot on the team.
Bennati started the 2006 season with two second places in the GP Costa degli Etruschi (behind Alessandro Petacchi, who had taken over Cipollini’s mantle as the dominant Italian sprinter), and then took his first win of the season in February’s Volta a la Communitat Valenciana, four seconds ahead of the peloton (Napolitano took second place). In March, Bennati was due to be the team’s leader for the important races. He probably was not at his best form when he started the Tour of Flanders, and he had to drop out. He was then unable to start the Gent–Wevelgem race. Ten days later, however, a fully recovered Bennati won the final stage of the Giro del Trentino (his team-mate, Cunego, won the overall). The next week, he competed in the Tour de Romandie, where Robbie McEwen showed that Bennati was not quite at the top level.
The Lampre team for the Giro d'Italia was again built around the overall competition, and Bennati was not included. Instead, he participated in the Vuelta a Catalunya, winning the final stage ahead of Erik Zabel. In early June, he outsprinted his two breakaway companions to win the Memorial Marco Pantani. Although he could only manage 2nd and 3rd places in the Tour of Switzerland, he did wear the leader’s jersey for one day and won the points jersey. July brought Bennati to his first Tour de France. He was among the top ten finishers in eight stages, including a 2nd place behind McEwen. He dropped out after a fall during the 16th stage; he was third in the points jersey competition at the time.
Two months later, Bennati returned to the Tour of Poland, where he won two stages and wore the leader’s jersey for two days. The following weekend, he won two more races: the GP Citta di Misano-Adriatico and the GP Industria e Commercio di Prato, but was not chosen for the Italian World Championships team, as the selector (Franco Ballerini) opted to do without any sprinters.
Although his result in the sprinter’s classic, Paris–Tours, was disappointing (37th), Bennati ended his season with a victory at the Giro del Piemonte. This brought him to a total of 9 victories in 2006, but he dropped to 87th place in the Pro Tour standings – largely due to his absence from the spring classics due to illness.
2007 – Bennati comes into his own
Bennati spent much of his off-season training in the Canary Islands (with Daniele Righi, Giuliano Figueras, Caudio Corioni, and Mauro Santambrogio) and began the 2007 racing season with two wins in February. In the Tour Méditerranéean he won one stage (with strong support from his teammate Alessandro Ballan), had two 2nd places (in one of them, he was beaten by a hair by Mirco Lorenzetto in a finale identical to that of Milan – San Remo) and won the points jersey. After a fourth place at the Trofeo Laigueglia, Bennati outsprinted Petacchi for three wins in the Volta a la Communidat Valenciana. Unlike previous years, Bennati did not compete in Tirreno–Adriatico, choosing to ride Paris–Nice instead, where he had some high finishes but no victories. Once again, he was stricken by illness just prior to Milan – San Remo, where he finished 26th, and the Grand Prix E3 was a disappointment for the same reason.
Bennati’s form improved in the beginning of April, where he won one stage of the Dreidaagse De Panne. In the Tour of Flanders, he worked hard for his team-mate, Alessandro Ballan, who won in a sprint (ahead of Leif Hoste). Although he was one of the favorites for the mid-week classic Gent–Wevelgem, Bennati had to withdraw because of a fever and intestinal difficulties. He started Paris–Roubaix but did not make it to the finish at the velodrome. His troubles continued into May; Bennati had to drop out of the Volta a Catalunya (though he did manage a third place in one stage). But in the Tour of Switzerland he recovered his health and won the points jersey; although he had no stage victories, he had a second place in the prologue (behind Fabian Cancellara), and second places in two other stages as well (behind Erik Zabel and Robbie McEwen). A few days later, Bennati took 6th place in the Italian National Championships.
In July, Bennati rode in the Tour de France for the second time; he now had enough stature that his goals of winning a stage and competing for the points jersey were considered reasonable. As his team had no rider for the overall standings, he could count on help from his team-mates Ballan, Napolitano, and Corioni. However, he fell in the last kilometer of the second stage and was not able to unleash his sprint until he had recovered somewhat from his injuries. In the fifth stage, he finished 3rd (behind Filippo Pozzato and Óscar Freire). There followed a 6th place, a 4th place, some unsuccessful breakaways, and then, after the last mountain stages, Bennati won twice, including the prestigious final stage on the Champs-Elysees.
On the strength of his successes, he was named the leader of the Lampre team for the Vattenfall Cyclassics race, but watched as his team-mate Ballan took off from the peloton and held on to win.
In September, Bennati raced in his second Grand Tour of the season. He won the first stage (ahead of Óscar Freire and Alessandro Petacchi) and wore the leader’s jersey for a day, losing it after a fall two kilometers from the finish of the second stage. After two second places, he came into his own during the final week, just as he had in the Tour de France: Bennati won the 17th stage and then the final stage in Madrid, taking the leadership in the contest for the points jersey on the final day of the race. This victory, his tenth of 2007, marked the end of Bennati’s season. Although he had been scheduled to compete in the Monte Paschi Eroica and Paris–Tours, he was found to have a broken wrist that ruled out any more racing.
During the final week of the Vuelta a España, Bennati had signed a two-year contract with a new team: Liquigas. Claudio Corioni and Enrico Franzoi, valuable team-mates who formed an important part of his leadout train, also signed for Liquigas.
2008 – Liquigas
The move to Liquigas brought up some potential frictions: they now had two stars, Bennati and Filippo Pozzato, whose primary targets for the year would be similar. Any conflict in their spring racing goals disappeared, however, with Bennati’s knee injury (“a slight patellar chondropathy in the left knee, associated with inflammation of the lateral ligament”) keeping him out of action until the end of April. He did not finish his first race back (the Giro d’Oro). In his next race, the Giro del Trentino, he took 17th in the opening time trial but did not figure in any of the stage finishes. The Tour de Romandie opened with a very short prologue, where Bennati took second behind Mark Cavendish. He also took second behind Robbie McEwen in the first sprint finish, showing that he was coming back into form. This was confirmed with a victory in the final stage, giving him first place in the points classification.
The 2008 Giro d'Italia was a success for Bennati, and was marked by a series of battles with the young Manxman, Mark Cavendish. Bennati won the third stage, into Milazzo; the following day, Cavendish won the stage to Lungomare (his first Grand Tour win). The next sprinters’ stage was the ninth; Bennati won, by a whisker, over Paolo Bettini, who was racing his final Giro d'Italia. Bennati also won the 12th stage, with a narrow margin over Cavendish; the order was reversed the following day. His three stage victories (in a Giro with few stages suitable for sprinters) also gave Bennati the points jersey.
However, Bennati paid a price for the points jersey: the long pull in cold weather over the Mortirolo Pass caused an inflammation of Bennati’s left Achilles tendon (the same leg as the knee injury).
He did not return to competition until August, at the Eneco Tour. There he was second to Tom Boonen in the second stage before winning the third stage and taking the leader's jersey for a day. He was dropped in the fourth stage, finishing in 88th place 22 seconds behind Boonen and losing the lead in the GC to Andre Greipel. Bennati then dropped out of the Eneco Tour and proceeded to the Vuelta a España in good form – where Filippo Pozzato was also a team leader. The Liquigas team won the first stage, a team time trial, with Pozzato crossing the line first and donning the leader’s jersey (Bennati was 4th). Bennati served as a domestique for Pozzato during the first stage, but when Pozzato did not retain the leader’s jersey he was able to ride for himself. He was 2nd (to Tom Boonen) the following day, and then won the fourth stage (beating Boonen), but dropped out after the 9th stage.
Bennati was not named to the Italian team for the World Championships, and his bad luck in Paris–Tours, the sprinters’ classic, continued; he finished 8th in a race marked by Philippe Gilbert’s inspiring victory.
However, Bennati won his final race of the year, the Giro del Piemonte; it was his second victory in this race, which he also won in 2006.
At the Vuelta a España, Bennati took his first win of the 2012 season in a very close finish on stage 18, edging Team Sky's sprinter Ben Swift. He dedicated his victory to the memory of Wouter Weylandt and of his grandfather.
Team Saxo-Tinkoff (2013–)
On Team Saxo-Tinkoff Bennati manages to be a part of the team to the Tour de France, even though it was highly occupied by riders like Contador, Roche, Rogers, Kreuziger etc. His goal for Tour de France 2013 is not to win a stage, but to help Alberto Contador to get the overall victory.
- 1st Stage 1b Tour of Austria
- 1st Stage 5 Regio-Tour
- 1st Stage 3 Tour de Pologne
- 1st Stage 5 Tour Méditerranéen
- 8th Trofeo Manacor
- 1st Giro di Toscana
- Deutschland Tour
- Tour de Pologne
- 1st Stages 2 & 4
- 2nd Paris–Tours
- 3rd Gent–Wevelgem
- 4th GP Ouest-France
- 1st Giro del Piemonte
- 1st Gran Premio Città di Misano – Adriatico
- 1st GP Industria & Commercio di Prato
- 1st Mercatone Uno-Memorial Pantani
- Tour de Pologne
- 1st Stages 2 & 4
- 1st Stage 7 Volta a Catalunya
- 1st Stage 5 Vuelta a la Comunitat Valenciana
- 1st Stage 4 Giro del Trentino
- 1st Points classification Tour de Suisse
- Vuelta a España
- 1st Stages 1, 17 & 21
- 1st Points classification
- Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana
- Tour de France
- 1st Stages 17 & 20
- Three Days of De Panne
- 1st Stage 2 Tour Méditerranéen
- 1st Points classification, Tour de Suisse
- 3rd GP Costa degli Etruschi
- 1st Giro del Piemonte
- Giro d'Italia
- 1st Stages 3, 9 & 12
- 1st Points classification
- Vuelta a España
- 1st Stages 1 (TTT) & 4
- Tour de Romandie
- 1st Stage 3 Eneco Tour
- 1st Overall Giro di Sardegna
- 1st Stage 4
- 1st Trofeo Inca
- 1st Giro di Toscana
- 1st Stage 2 Tour of Oman
- 1st Stage 3 Tirreno–Adriatico
- 6th Vattenfall Cyclassics
- Circuit de la Sarthe
- Vuelta a España
- 1st Stages 1 (TTT) & 20
- 1st Stage 3 Tour de Wallonie
- 1st Stage 8 Tour of Austria
- 2nd Overall Danmark Rundt
- 2nd Gent–Wevelgem
- 3rd Overall Tour of Qatar
- 7th Giro del Piemonte
- 1st Stage 18 Vuelta a España
- 6th Gent–Wevelgem
- 7th Giro del Piemonte
- 10th Milan – San Remo
- 2nd Gran Premio Nobili Rubinetterie
- 5th GP Ouest-France
- "Team Saxo-Tinkoff (TST) – DEN". UCI World Tour. Union Cycliste Internationale. Retrieved 11 January 2013.
- Daniele Bennati, Lampre-Fondital: A winning start
- Jeff Jones (19 September 2002). "Petacchi ascends the throne". Cycling News (Future Publishing Limited). Retrieved 7 September 2012.
- Kristy Scrymgeour (10 September 2005). "UCI doping news". Cycling News (Future Publishing Limited). Retrieved 7 September 2012.
- "Bennati sprints to photo-finish victory in Valladolid". Cycling News (Future Publishing Limited). 6 September 2012. Retrieved 7 September 2012.
- "Bennati joins Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank". Cycling News (Future Publishing Limited). 14 September 2012. Retrieved 14 September 2012.
Media related to Daniele Bennati at Wikimedia Commons