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Cunego and Menchov in Liège, Zabel and Petacchi out

By:
Kirsten Robbins in Braselton, Georgia
Published:
April 25, 2008, 0:00 BST,
Updated:
April 20, 2009, 21:28 BST
Edition:
Latest Cycling News, April 25, 2008

Damiano Cunego is going into Liège-Bastogne-Liège with high ambitions, having already won the Amstel...

Damiano Cunego is going into Liège-Bastogne-Liège with high ambitions, having already won the Amstel Gold Race and placing third in Flèche Wallonne. "I am calm and I feel good," the 26 year-old Lampre rider said. "The opponents will be same as in the Ardennes Classics, so the battle will be tough: I will be there."

Cunego will be supported in La Doyenne, in which he finished third in 2006, by Paolo Bossoni, Francesco Gavazzi, Daniele Righi, Mauro Santambrogio, Simon Spilak, Palo Tiralongo and Marco Marzano, who is recovering from a crash in Flèche Wallonne.

The last of the Belgian Classics will be Denis Menchov's first of the season. The Rabobank captain is flying in from Spain to ride Liège-Bastogne-Liège as a warm-up for the upcoming Giro d'Italia. He will be supported by Thomas Dekker, Robert Gesink, Oscar Freire, Laurens ten Dam and Bram Tankink, all of who rode the Amstel Gold Race and the Flèche Wallonne. Theo Eltink and Mauricio Ardila round out the roster.

Team Milram will have to do without captain Erik Zabel in the race, as the team has been hit by a wave of injuries and illness. Zabel and Martin Velits were both injured in a mass crash during Flèche Wallonne, with the sprinter suffering severe bruising to a knee and elbow, which prevent him from all but very light training. Velits fell on his previously injured hand. In addition, Classics specialist Ralf Grabsch is out with an infected knee cap. Milram will send to the race Andrey Grivko, Artur Gajek, Christian Knees, Dominik Roels, Igor Astarloa, Peter Velits, Matej Jurco and Sebastian Schwager.

The team's other star sprinter is also out of action. Alessandro Petacchi has the flu and is taking his third break since Milano-Sanremo. "Alessandro was already suffering in the Classicissima, it didn't get better in Mergelland and things just got worse in the Tour of Turkey," said team manager Gerry van Gerwen. "He has to take antibiotics again and take a break. That is of course very unfortunate in light of the Giro."

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