Both Daniele Bennati and Cameron Wurf gave their teams a lift today at Tirreno-Adriatico. Italy's Bennati restored Liquigas' faith with a stage win in Monsummano Terme after the team had worked for him in the previous two days, and Australia's Wurf sent a signal to RCS Sport via an escape that team Androni is still one to believe in.
Wurf's Androni team-mate Massimo Giunti tested positive for EPO prior to the start of Tirreno-Adriatico and put team manager, Gianni Savio, in bad standing for an invitation to the Giro d'Italia. RCS Sport is due to make its team selections in the coming days and it should be swayed by performances like Wurf's.
The 26-year-old escaped in a group of three after the race left San Miniato, gaining a maximum of six minutes and 45 seconds. Sensing the sprinters' teams were closing in, Wurf went solo on the first of two finishing climbs, just as Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia) lost contact from the sprinters' group.
"The Giro is the biggest race all year for the Italian teams and, of course, we want an invite," Wurf told Cycling Weekly. "We are trying hard here and to see what happens.
"The first time I met Giunti was at breakfast, he did not really speak to me. I was looking forward to meeting him on the bus, but he never showed up. It was disappointing."
Wurf's day ended at the top of the final climb, but his team-mates Michele Scarponi and Francesco Ginanni immediately responded with an escape in a group of 10. Liquigas had other plans, though, and led out Bennati as it had in the first two stages.
Liquigas caught the 10-man move with 2.1 kilometres to race and led ahead of Sky for Edvald Boasson Hagen. Bennati followed through on his team's work, finishing ahead of Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-Farnese Vini), Bernhard Eisel (HTC-Columbia) and Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions).
"I created my own stress and pressure over the last two days," said Bennati. "I am a sprinter and want to win."
Liquigas was doubly pleased. Not only had Bennati followed through on the team's work, but also 20-year-old Peter Sagan won for the second time at Paris-Nice today.
"I was watching the finish of Paris-Nice on the bus after Bennati crossed the line for his win," Stefano Zanatta told Cycling Weekly. "He's amazing. After Paris-Nice, though, we will give him a break. Maybe he will race one of the Northern classics, but it is not certain."
Bennati also took the overall lead today from Germany's Linus Gerdemann (Milram), but it won't last long. Tomorrow is the first of three mountain stages that will help decide the 2010 Tirreno-Adriatico.
Tirreno-Adriatico 2010, stage three: San Miniato-Monsummano Terme 159km
1. Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo
2. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre
3. Bernhard Eisel (Aut) HTC-Columbia
4. Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Transitions
5. Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa) Team Sky all same time
Overall classification after stage three
1. Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo
2. Linus Gerdemann (Ger) Milram at 4secs
3. Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step at 4secs
Stage two: Boonen wins sprint and becomes San Remo favourite
Stage one: Gerdemann is back, and with good timingFarrar watching Cavendish ahead of Milan-San Remo
Cavendish getting better but still not that confident
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