By Gregor Brown
Damiano Cunego has confirmed earlier speculation of continuing with his current team Lampre-Fondital by signing a two-year extension. The 25 year-old from Verona agreed to extend his contract with Giuseppe Saronni's team to the end of 2009. After winning the Giro d'Italia and Giro di Lombardia in 2004, Il Piccolo Principe confirmed his status by winning the Maillot Blanc for best young rider in this year's Tour de France. The result, along with a solid season, brought offers from a variety of teams; Unibet.com, T-Mobile, Quick-Step, Milram and Liquigas were all rumoured to be interested.
"I did not have any doubts in what to do," explained Cunego. "I voluntarily selected to prolong my contract with Lampre-Fondital, in view of the team's trust in me and its serious atmosphere. The enthusiasm from the Galbusera family, from the Niboli family and from all of the other sponsors made me very happy; I hope to give them important satisfactions."
At the end of this season Lampre-Fondital and frame supplier Wilier showed their intent in developing the young star by flying him to Texas for a wind tunnel session. Cunego worked on developing his form on the time trial bike to ensure a second win in the Giro and have a go at the Tour title in 2008. While in Texas, he had a chance to try the local food; Cunego said light-heatedly to Cyclingnews: "I made sure to try the Mexican food but no, I did not have the beer [Shiner Bock]."
Cunego will join the Italian team after the holidays for their first camp of 2007. From January 12 to 19, about 10 riders will meet in Terracina (near Roma) for training.