Alessandro Petacchi (LPR) won virtually on his back door at Tirreno-Adriatico on Thursday after impressing on the tough climb that split the bunch 13km from the finish.
Petacchi got a perfect lead out through the final corner, 210m from the finish, and then opened up his sprint. Bennati was on his wheel but was unable to get passed him. Spain?s Koldo Fernandez (Euskaltel) was third.
Stage one winner Julien El Fares (Cofidis) finished in the front group and retained the overall race lead. Petacchi is now second overall at 15 seconds, with Bennati third, also at 15 seconds.
Alessandro Petacchi?s career derailed three years ago when he smashed his kneecap in a crash in the 2006 Giro d?Italia. He came back to win five stages in the 2007 Giro but lost them all after testing positive for asthma drug Salbutamol.
He claimed he only over used his inhaler but he was banned for a year and Milram sacked him. He signed for the LPR team and his first victory after his ban was the opening stage of last year?s Tour of Britain.
?It?s great to win just five kilometres from my home,? Petacchi said, tasking his young son on the podium.
?This win pays me back for the things that have happened to me in the last three years. I haven?t felt this good for ages. In the past I always had minor muscle problems because of my knee but this year I?ve continued to work in the gym even during the season and that has stopped the problems.?
CAVENDISH GOES CLOSE
As expected the twisting two-part four-kilometre climb to the edge of the Carrara marble quarries split the bunch, with only 90 riders left in the front group. Bennati and Tom Boonen (Quick Step) were both affected by crashes on the dusty climb but only Bennati got back to the front. The bunch split into five groups, with the last group finishing 12 minutes down.
Mark Cavendish (Columbia) worked hard to stay with the bunch in the hope of contesting the sprint finish but a strong surge from Davide Rebellin in the final kilometre meant he lost contact.
Cavendish has clearly improved on the climbs and knowing he was still on contention, he dived down the descent with three team mates but just failed to get back up to the leaders. When he realised he would not make it in time for the sprint he sat up and finished 2-08 behind Petacchi.
?I?m climbing so much better but I just got popped in the last K of the second climb. We bombed it down the descent and nearly got back on but missed it by 50 metres,? Cavendish told Cycling Weekly.
Friday?s 166km third stage is from Fucecchio to Santa Croce sull?Arno and covers many of the roads Cavendish and other British riders based in Quarrata cover in training.
The stage is almost totally flat and offers a great chance for Cavendish to show he is the best sprinter when it comes down to pure sprinting speed.
?They?re my training roads, I know ?em,? Cavendish told Cycling Weekly, clearly having marked the stage as the one he can win.
Tirreno-Adriatico stage two: Results
1. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) LPR Brakes 185km in 4hrs 32mins 42secs
2. Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas
3. Koldo Fernández (Spa) Euskaltel
4. Dominique Rollin (Can) Cervelo
5. Luca Paolini (Ita) Acqua & Sapone
6. Manuel Belletti (Ita) Diquigiovanni
7. Stuart O?Grady (Aus) Saxo Bank
8. Enrico Rossi (Ita) Flaminia
9. Baden Cooke (Aus) Vacansoleil
10. Allan Davis (Aus) Quick Step all same time
26. Dan Lloyd (Gbr) Cervelo at same time
95. Mark Cavendish (Gbr) Columbia at 2mins 8secs
154. Geraint Thomas (Gbr) Barloworld at s.t
142. Steve Cummings (Gbr) Barloworld
128. Roger Hammond (Gbr) Cervelo all at 6mins 49secs
192. Charly Wegelius (Gbr) Silence at 12mins 6secs.
Overall classification after stage two
1. Julien El Fares (Fra) Cofidis 8hrs 6mins 32secs
2. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) LPR at 15sec
3. Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas at 15secs
4. Enrico Rossi (Ita) Ceramica Flaminia at 24secs
5. Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis at 25secs
6. Assan Bazayev (Kaz) Astana
7. Matti Breschel (Den) Saxo Bank
8. Lorenzo Bernucci (Ita) LPR
9. F. Pozzato (Ita) Katusha
10. G. Hincapie (Usa) Columbia all at s.t
53. Dan Lloyd (Gbr) Cervelo at 1min 29secs
111. Geraint Thomas (Gbr) Barloworld at 7mins 4secs
145. Mark Cavendish (Gbr) Columbia at 9mins 35secs
164. Roger Hammond (Gbr) Cervelo all at 11mins 45secs
166. Steve Cummings (Gbr) Barloworld at s.t
175. Charly Wegelius (Gbr) Silence at 14min 16secs.
Stage one: Breakaway surprises the sprinters
Mechanical problem wrecks Cavendish?s Tirreno chances
Preview: Sprinters gather for Tirreno-Adriatico
2009 Tirreno-Adriatico route unveiled
2008: Cancellara wins Tirreno-Adriatico
Cycling Weekly photo gallery