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Following his third Giro di Lombardia title last weekend, Damiano Cunego has rejected suggestions...
Following his third Giro di Lombardia title last weekend, Damiano Cunego has rejected suggestions that he is the man to take over Paolo Bettini's mantle within Italian cycling.
After the retirement of Bettini following this year's world championships, Cunego told La Gazzetta dello Sport that, "I am not going to be called the new Bettini. Paulo has his place in history and he won a lot. This year I won Amstel and Lombardia, and collected a third place at the Flèche-Wallonne plus a second in the World Championships. In the future I would like to prove that I can feature in Grand Tours; it will be one of my goals for 2009, perhaps starting with the centenary Giro d'Italia."
Cunego also explained that his third Lombardia win felt, "a little bit like the 2004 Giro, when I last tasted these types of emotions. You can enjoy the last stretch with the screams of the fans and the feeling of being number one.
"Even though I struggled in the end, I pedaled strong to ensure I didn't lose the advantage I gained on the descent of the Civiglio," he continued. "I studied that point of the course, which I closely analysed last Wednesday, but I still had many doubts because I knew that the team would have spent so much controlling the race." Cunego paid tribute to the work of his Lampre squad, saying, "If I won it is due to them – my mates – from Ballan to Szmyd and everyone to Santambrogio, Tiralongo and the others. I gave everyone a watch, as I did last year."