Last Saturday, October 28, Damiano Cunego traveled to Texas for an aerodynamic position study with John Cobb. The occasion was historic and possibly career changing; during the day, Gianmarco Cilli had a chance to sit down with Cunego to discuss 2006 and his upcoming goals.
Damiano Cunego first came to the attention of the cycling world in 2004 when he upstaged his Saeco team leader Gilberto Simoni and won the Giro d'Italia. He was only 22 years-old. He then soared to the top of the UCI rankings to finish the 2004 season at number one. He was the youngest rider ever to do so. His second real attempt at a Grand Tour (a virus ruined his 2005 season) was the 2006 Giro, in which the Lampre-Fondital rider was easily defeated by Ivan Basso. What became clear was that though Cunego has exceptional climbing ability and recovery powers, he lacks the time trial skills to compete in the modern day Giro d'Italia, which has become less a climber's race and more like the Tour de France. Cunego was still only 24 years-old during this year's Giro, and it must be noted that he still has some maturation as a rider ahead of him.
A similar story unfolded at the 2006 Tour de France; Cunego lost large amounts of time to the top GC contenders in the time trial stages. More encouraging though, was his performance in the final TT, in which he defeated specialist Markus Fothen of Gerolsteiner to secure his win the young rider's competition.
Encouraged by this victory, Cunego announced his goal of winning the 2008 Tour de France. Eager to help young Cunego achieve this goal is Velo Imports, the USA importer of Wilier Triestina frames, the same ones that are used by Lampre-Fondital. Though the USA connections, Cunego was put in touch with aerodynamics guru John Cobb for wind tunnel testing near Houston, in College Station, Texas.Cobb, after studying photographs of Cunego in the Tour de France time trials, knew he could make changes to his position that would save him significant time.
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