Italy's Damiano Cunego is ready to fight for victory in País Vasco's stage three today in Eibar, Spain. The team Lampre-NGC rider believes it is a good test prior to the Ardennes Classics later this month.
"The stage will be demanding, almost like a test for a Classic," said Cunego to La Gazzetta dello Sport.
Stage three, which takes in most of the defunct Euskal Bizikleta race, will shake up the overall classification led by Luis León Sánchez (Caisse d'Epargne). There are four mountain passes coming in the final 50 kilometres: Alto de Karabieta (127km), Alto de Ixua (137.9km), Alto de San Miguel (152.2km) and Alto de Ixua (169.5). The final pass of Alto de Ixua leaves three kilometres to the finish.
"I will try to win. I am not the only one, but I am doing well and it is the best occasion for me to try to take home a success."
The race ends on Saturday with a 24-kilometre time trial in Zalla. Cunego won stage five last year and Alberto Contador won the overall. The Spaniard is a favourite to repeat.
Cunego won two stages and the overall of the Coppi e Bartali last month. His goals for 2009 include the Ardennes Classics – Amstel Gold (April 19), Flèche Wallonne (April 22) and Liège-Bastogne-Liège (April 26) – and the Giro d'Italia.