With a little more than a week to go before the start of the Italian Grand Tour, Lampre's Damiano Cunego has reconnoitred the final climb of the 17th stage of this year's Giro d'Italia: the ascent up to Plan de Corones. With more than 1200 metres of altitude difference to master on the 16.9 kilometres long climb up the 2273 metres high mountaintop (maximum gradient 24 percent just before the finish), Cunego reckoned that this would be a decisive stage towards to overall victory of the Giro.
"It's a climb that really impressed me," said Cunego, who was joined in the feat by Marzio Bruseghin, Paolo Tiralongo and young climber Morris Possoni. "I just hope it won't rain that day. You also have to be lucky: if you put your foot on the ground once, you're out. However, I like the climb and I think it suits me. Together with the Mortirolo (on stage 20), this will be a key stage to decide the Giro." The young Italian asked his mechanic to put on a 34 x 29 gear to ride up what Italian television RAI presenter called 'a ski slope, not a final climb.'
Asked who he counted on as his top rivals in the week ahead, Cunego responded, "There are many, but mainly Basso. But I feel stronger than I was in 2004 when I won, and I also have a very strong team behind me, which equals or even tops CSC."