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Cunego wins the battle for the white jersey

By:
Jean-François Quénet and Hedwig Kröner in Montceau-les-Mines
Published:
July 23, 2006, 1:00 BST,
Updated:
April 22, 2009, 20:35 BST
Edition:
Cycling News Extra for July 23, 2006
Race:
Tour de France
Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital)

Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital)

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By Jean-François Quénet and Hedwig Kröner in Montceau-les-Mines Lampre's Damiano Cunego was wearing...

By Jean-François Quénet and Hedwig Kröner in Montceau-les-Mines

Lampre's Damiano Cunego was wearing the white jersey during the final time trial but he wasn't the favourite to win the best young rider competition. He only had five seconds advantage over Gerolsteiner's Marcus Fothen, who is known as a better rider against the clock. But right from the start, the Italian was ahead, and he clocked a better time than the German, adding 31 seconds to his lead.

Fothen was devastated. "I think I gave it all I had," he said at the finish. "My team director assured me just now that I did a good time trial: I'm about thirty seconds behind Sebastian Lang, the German TT champion. So that's definitely where I belong, too - about a minute or half a minute behind 'Seppl'. I didn't expect that Cunego would ride so fast; I don't know if anybody did. That was a great performance of him."

The German was very disappointed not to have reached his goal, which he had aimed for for almost one year. "To get the white jersey and to be within top fifteen on GC - I don't know if it was enough for that [it was, Fothen finished 15th - ed.], that's what I had aimed for. So I'm pretty disappointed now that the jersey is gone," he added.

Cunego, of course, was very happy with himself: "I'm delighted," he commented. "This is the best time trial I've ever done. I had some doubts this morning, but it's true that at the end of the Tour, the legs count more than being a specialist for time trial.

"I dreamed about Fothen last night! I deeply wanted to win this jersey. This time trial is a good test for the future. I've done it, thinking about my companions who were watching the race on TV. I share the jersey with all the people who have suffered with me when not everything was going well for me. This experience at the Tour shows me that the best result can come with serenity instead of pressure."

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