Cunego to reconnoitre Tour stage to Italy

Lampre leader Damiano Cunego plans to ride the final part of Stage 15 of the Tour de France next...

Lampre leader Damiano Cunego plans to ride the final part of Stage 15 of the Tour de France next Tuesday, the 183-kilometre leg from Digne-les-Bains to the Prato Nevoso ski station in Italy. The Italian will start out from Chiusa di Pesio and ride the final 35 kilometres over the Colle del Morte (Cat. 3) before the ascent to Prato Nevoso at 1440 metres above sea level.

He will be accompanied by Lampre team-mate Marco Marzano, while directeur sportif Maurizio Piovani and Italian Tour representative Lorenzo Tealdi will follow in the car. "Given the geographical proximity, it seemed appropriate and useful to see the ascent of Prato Nevoso," said Piovani. "Here in Italy we expect many supporters and want to be prepared for this stage. It would be nice to get a major result here."

This year's Tour will spend a total of three days over the border in Italy, its only foray outside France. After Stage 15 the riders will spend a rest day in Cuneo before departing for Jauziers, back over the border, the following day.

After a successful Spring Classics campaign which saw him victorious at the Amstel Gold Race in The Netherlands, Cunego elected to miss the Giro d'Italia and focus on the Tour de France. He is expected to ride the Tour de Suisse from June 14-22 as his final preparation race before the Tour start in Brittany on July 5.

It will be the second Tour de France for Cunego, whose only previous encounter with the race was in 2006 when he finished 11th overall and claimed the white jersey of best young rider. With the absence of defending champion Alberto Contador and the reduced number of time trialling kilometres this year, Cunego will be one of several favourites for overall victory.

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