A late addition to the Lampre-ISD team for Milan-San Remo, Damiano Cunego admitted that he could find an ally of circumstance on the Italian Riviera on Saturday in the shape of Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale).
Nibali was an impressive winner of Tirreno-Adriatico early in the week and the Sicilian has been in the full glare of an expectant home media in the build-up to La Primavera. For his part, Cunego decided to line up at Milan-San Remo after giving encouraging signs of his own form in the final days of Paris-Nice.
“Vincenzo is in great form, his morale will be sky high after winning Tirreno-Adriatico,” Cunego told Gazzetta dello Sport. “I’ve read that he has already committed himself and said that he’ll have a go. Everyone will be watching him. They won’t be looking at me so much, and I’m not sorry about that. In any case, we could have the same interests and try something together.”
Remarkably, Saturday marks only the third time that Cunego has taken part in Milan-San Remo, testament to the specialised nature of modern cycling. “I came out of Paris-Nice well, and a lot of my teammates have physical problems at the moment, like Pietropolli and Petacchi himself, so the management proposed this to me,” Cunego said.
Cunego’s previous tilts at Milan-San Remo came in 2006 and 2010, and on each occasion, the man from Cerro Veronese failed to make any significant impact. “Two years ago, I came to the start with some ambitions, but I fell on the descent of the Turchino and I used up a lot of energy getting back on,” he recalled.
Cunego is adamant that the sprinters, and Mark Cavendish and Tom Boonen in particular, have a “90 per cent chance” of dividing up the spoils on Saturday. While he will look to be in the thick of the action over the capi, Cunego acknowledges that he will have his work cut out to hit the jackpot in San Remo.
“You’re talking about 300km of racing, but it’s almost always decided in the finale,” he said. “I’d like to try and attack. It would be a good sign, and after that, you never know. Anyway, at worst I’ll have done a nice long training session ahead of the Volta a Catalunya, which starts on Monday.”