Italian Damiano Cunego (Lampre-NGC) returns to racing today at the Giro dell'Emilia, two weeks after missing out on the World Championships title. He aims for a fourth Giro di Lombardia win, which would tie him with Italian legend Alfredo Binda.
"I say to my critics, look at my list of wins," Cunego told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "You can't judge on a single result and forget everything else; you have to take it all into account."
Cunego received some criticism in from media following the World Championships in Mendrisio, Switzerland. He made the lead group of nine cyclists on the final lap, but failed to follow the winning three-man move of eventual winner Cadel Evans.
Cunego is currently Italy's top-ranked cyclist. He won two stages of the Vuelta a España last month, his third Giro di Lombardia title and Amstel Gold race last year and the 2004 Giro d'Italia overall.
If he wins next Sunday's Giro di Lombardia he will tie with legend Binda and place himself only behind Italian Fausto Coppi (five wins). He will race the Giro dell'Emilia and GP Beghelli as preparation.
"I need to build up my race rhythm heading towards Lombardia," Cunego continued. "I am trying, with the best training possible, to arrive in the best condition for the win. It is a one-day race, you can win or lose it."
Cunego won Beghelli two years ago ahead of German Fabian Wegmann. He said he will take what he can get, trying for a win this weekend if the opportunity arises.
Organiser RCS Sport presented the 103rd Giro di Lombardia Thursday in Como, Italy. The race starts in Varese and finishes in Como, 242 kilometres later. It features the Madonna di Ghisallo, Civiglio and San Fermo climbs in the final 60 kilometres.