Italian sprinter Daniele Bennati (Liquigas) has admitted that Britain?s Mark Cavendish (Team Columbia) will be his biggest rival in next year?s Giro d?Italia but is confident he can win again and claims he beat the young Brit four to two in head to head sprints in 2008.
A troublesome Achilles injury meant that Bennati was only on form at the Giro d?Italia and the Vuelta Espana. He won three stages at the Giro but lost two others to Cavendish and was clearly not as fast in the final hundred metres.
?I don?t want to sound presumptuous but I?ve still to show what I can really do in sprints,? Bennati told Gazzetta dello Sport on Friday, as the Liquigas team end their first training camp in Benicassim in Spain.
?In head to head sprints against Cavendish I come out on top. It was 3-2 in the Giro and one nil at the Tour of Romandie.?
Despite the rivalry between Bennati and Cavendish, the two have huge respect for each other. Bennati let Cavendish squeeze through against the barriers in the sprint in Cittadella and Cavendish congratulated him for his sportmanship.
?Cavendish is incredibly strong and especially on the flat stages thanks to his amazing late acceleration," Bennati admitted.
"It?s a bit easier when the speed of the sprint is high but he?s the hardest to beat.?
Bennati has now recovered from his Achilles problem thanks to physiotherapy and a special soft heal in his cycling shoes. He is already doing up to five hours on the bike and plans to target the classics, the Giro d?Italia and the Tour de France in 2009, meaning there will be plenty of sprints where Bennati and Cavendish will go head to head, to show who is the fastest.
2009 Giro route unveiled
Cavendish gets a new lead out man for 2009
Cavendish extends contract with Columbia
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