Daniele Bennati (Leopard-Trek) claimed his first win on the 2011 season after kicking to victory in the opening stage at the Circuit Cyclist Sarthe in France.
It was Bennati’s first win since taking the flowers last fall at the Giro di Toscana in late September and his first win after five second places so far this season, including second at Ghent-Wevelgem two weeks ago.
Bennati out-kicked Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis), with Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) crossing the line third in the 191km stage from Chateau d’Olonne to Saint-Mars-La-Jaille. The win also gives Bennati the leader’s jersey.
“Our goal was to win with Daniele today,” Sports director Luca Guercilena said in a Leopard-Trek report. “We decided to control the race from the start. We pulled back an early breakaway. After the first break was caught, the peloton started to ride really fast. There were lots of attacks. The team responded as needed. They rode really well today.”
The stage, which began in Le Château d’Olonne, concluded with four laps over a 6.8 kilometres circuit. As the race entered the circuit, Jonathan Thira (Auber 93) remained alone out front. Heading into the final meters, Will Clarke and Davide Viganò drove the sprint for Bennati.
“We managed this break easily,” noted Guercilena. “Oliver Zaugg, Martin Pedersen and Thomas Rohregger kept the pace high as they took pulls on the front. We closed the gap about 10K before the finish. It was a true team effort. Everything has gone according to plan. We are very happy.”
Bennati expressed relief on being able to deliver the win after so many close calls so far this season.
“With Davide pulling the sprint for me, I was third wheel in the last corner, 300 meters from the finish,” Bennati said. “When Davide moved to the side with 220 meters to go, I jumped. No one could follow me. It’s good to win like that. I give a big thanks to my team for this victory.”
The four-day race continues Wednesday with a split stage, with a 99.8km road stage in the morning, followed by an afternoon time trial of 6.8km in Angers.
- 1. Daniele Bennati, ((ITA)) Leopard Trek
- 2. Samuel Dumoulin, ((FRA)) Cofidis,le Credit En Lig.,
- 3. Nacer Bouhanni, ((FRA)) Fdj
- 4. Pablo Forero Juan, ((COL)) Colombia Es Pasion
- 5. Jure Kocjan, ((SLO)) Team Type1-Sanofi Aventis