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Lampre leader believes "beating Gilbert is possible"
Damiano Cunego, who at 22 years of age won the 2004 Giro d'Italia, has always had difficulty choosing between Grand Tour or Classics contention. As he this year enters his tenth season as a pro, the now 30-year-old has opted to focus on the Spring Classics and the Worlds in the Netherlands as his main targets in 2012. Like last year, the Lampre-ISD rider will skip the Giro d'Italia, and participate in the Tour de France, but without aiming at the general classification.
Cunego, who already has the Amstel Gold Race and the Giro di Lombardia to his name, told Sporza his race schedule had been decided. "This year, I highlighted two events on the calendar: Liège-Bastogne-Liège on April 22 and the Worlds in Valkenburg in September. I'll skip the Olympic Games in London, because the route doesn't suit me."
The Italian went on to explain that "I am a fast climber, I've always been. That means that I get the best out of one-day races, hence my choice."
With age comes wisdom, some might say, and also Cunego now counts on his experience to score more Classics victories in what could be his best years yet. "My time is not over yet," he vowed. "In the Ardennes and also in Amstel, Philippe Gilbert will have to watch me. I may be able to be one of his challengers this year. He'll be difficult to beat, I know that. But I firmly believe in it."
The unveiling of Cunego's race programme could also mean that teammate Michele Scarponi will be leading Lampre-ISD at the Giro d'Italia, but the team has not yet announced anything definite as to whether Scarponi will ride the Giro or the Tour this year.