Damiano Cunego, winner of the Amstel Gold Race, is prepared to take up the Italian National Championship fight thanks to a strong Team Lampre. The 26 year-old from Verona will have the support from the likes of 2007 Ronde van Vlaanderen winner Alessandro Ballan for the Bergamo battle this Sunday.
"The Bergamo parcours is adapted to Cunego's characteristics. ... It will be a very, very hard course with a two-kilometre climb repeated 13 times; also the [hot] weather will be a factor," confirmed Lampre Director Sportif Maurizio Piovani to Cyclingnews. Since turning professional in 2002 Cunego has not had an opportunity to win the tricolore jersey. This year he has the chance to ride with the top in the Tour de France, July 5 to 27, where he will be fighting for the overall victory.
"Damiano, after the fourth place in the Tour de Suisse, has good morale and is working to refine his condition for the Tour de France," Piovani continued. He noted that Cunego will be careful not to spend any extra energy than is necessary since the French Grand Tour starts only six days later.
Including Cunego and Ballan, the team will be made up of nine riders. The other Lampre riders supporting the fight will be Matteo Bono, Marco Marzano, Massimiliano Mori, Paolo Tiralongo, Paolo Bossoni and Francesco Gavazzi.
Piovani explained that Ballan will race in a similar manner to Cunego. "To have him in the finale, with Bossoni and Cunego, we can play our cards," he noted this morning.
Lampre will also be represented in the Czech Republic as new recruite Lubos Pelánek fights for his nation's title.