After 18 years in the professional peloton Daniele Bennati has announced his retirement, citing back pain as the reason behind his decision.
The Movistar rider fractured his vertebrae in the spring at the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon, an injury he also suffered in 2016 after a crash at Milan - San Remo, and says his back has now told him enough is enough, and he is climbing off the bike for good.
"'Dear Benna, you must climb off'. This is what my back told me a few days ago," Bennati said.
He doesn't have any regrets, however, describing a career that has spanned two decades and eight professional teams in colourful terms.
"I can't take it out on her [his back] that has supported me for all the 18 years of a career that for me has had the colors of the rainbow, and as a soundtrack the applause of those who waited for me all along the streets for hours and hours to see me pass for only one second.
"Now I am the one applauding all those and they are many, too many to name them all, who helped me to reach important goals, to resist the cold of the mountains, the heat of the desert, the wind, the rain, the snow, to win 54 wonderful times."
Bennati's biggest win came in 2007, when he won the final stage 20 of the Tour de France on the Champs-Élysées, having taking his first ever Tour stage victory days before in Castelsarrasin.
"Now it is I who will not wait even a second to spend hours and hours with those who gave me heart waiting for me on tiptoe. Now I thank you and why not, also my inseparable back at this time has helped me in the most difficult task for me: getting off the bike."
Movistar also shared a heartfelt tribute to the Italian, thanking him for his three years of service.
"Today we say goodbye to Daniele after three years of wearing our colours in which he has been a director on the bike and an unbeatable ally for our leaders.
"Daniele is an example of elegance, on and off the bike. Above his immeasurable talent he has always had enormous sympathy. A back injury, aggravated by the fall suffered in the Vuelta a Castilla y León - and which had also caused a broken collarbone - prevents him from continuing to compete. But we are sure that what will come will be even better."
As well as his two Tour stage victories, Bennati won the Giro d'Italia points classification in 2008, taking three stage wins along the way.
At the 2017 Vuelta a España he also won the points classification, beating Denis Menchov and Samuel Sánchez. In total, Bennati won six stages of the Spanish Grand Tour during his career and also took two one-day race victories at the Giro del Piemonte in 2006 and 2008.
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