By Gregor Brown in Super Besse
Italian Damiano Cunego is not ready to give up his quest for the Tour de France overall classification, even though lost another 32 seconds to his rivals on the stage six finish in Super Besse. "This is a battle and the war is not over," Cunego told Cyclingnews/ "This was one of the many battles to come. Even in the past, in the Giro d'Italia, when I lost time I was always able to come back."
The 26 year-old Lampre rider was distanced from his main rivals – Cadel Evans, Denis Menchov and Alejandro Valverde – in the final metres of the 195.5-kilometre stage. The stage featured two category two climbs, with the second 11-kilometre ascent to the line which proved his undoing.
"It was a very demanding stage," Cunego said. "I could tell I was not on great form mid-way through." The Tour's first uphill finish sometimes takes a climber's legs by surprise, and Cunego, who sacrificed riding the Giro d'Italia to focus on his second Tour still sees opportunities ahead to take back time.
"My objective is to race for the classification, this is my only option. Thirty seconds can be considered small... I have lost minutes upon minutes in other occasions and I always recovered by the end.
"There is not a need to dramatize this. However, I am a little sorry for this moment today, not to be at the same level as the others."
Cunego's rivals were able to contend for the stage as Riccardo Riccó dashed towards victory, which was an important lesson for the Italian.
"I learned that they are going strong and will never let off," Cunego continued, sitting on the steps of his team bus. "In the next days, I need to try to continue racing calm – without spending energy – and move closer to them in the coming weeks."