Damiano Cunego’s future in cycling was finally confirmed on Friday when it was revealed that he would be joining the Nippo-Vini Fantini team next season. After almost a decade with the fuchsia and blue of Lampre-Merida, Cunego says that he’s ready for the new challenge.
“I'm happy with the decision taken and the choice made,” Cunego said in a post on his personal website. “It is a nice project, which will see us at the start of next season with so many young people and with my experience, which I hope will be helpful for them to take away a lot of satisfaction. It will be a team built around me, I still want to race and give more success to my fans.”
At 33, Cunego will be the second oldest rider in his new team, and the most experienced. In recent years, his career has taken a downturn and he has admitted in the past that he is already looking beyond his cycling career. It is now a decade since he took his breakthrough victory at the 2004 Giro d’Italia. He was unable to reach the same heights in the Grand Tour general classification, but has since added the young rider’s classification at the Tour de France, two stages at the Vuelta a España and three victories at the Giro di Lombardia to his palmares.
“An exciting new adventure awaits me and I am happy to share with you this step. I leave a team like Lampre, who by now have become almost like a second family to me after nine years together,” said Cunego. “I want to thank everyone from Beppe Saronni, the technical staff, managers, masseurs, mechanics, who have followed me with professionalism, and heartfelt thanks goes out to Galbusera (Mario Glbausera, owner of Lampre) who with his passion is close to the team and supports our sport.
“We have experienced some great moments and some more difficult, but it will take forever have fond memories from this period of my life.”
Lampre issued a statement on their website thanking Cunego for his years spent with the team. “The team and Cunego celebrated together 27 times, this is the number of the victories that Damiano obtained wearing blue-fuchsia colors,” it read. “The numbers talk for themselves, but the memories are worth a lot more than the figures. In this relationship, both parties gave a lot to the other: the team thanks Damiano for these ten years, being aware that this gratitude is largely repaid.”
Cunego’s final races with Lampre-Merida will be the Giro dell’Emilia on October 11 and the Japan Cup on October 20.