The 24th annual Grand Gala Ciclistico Internazionale di Conegliano was held last night after a strong Italian showing throughout 2008. The achievements of Alessandro Ballan and Damiano Cunego in particular were celebrated, while the evergreen Davide Rebellin was recognised for his consistent year with the 'Best Italian male rider' award. Spanish riders Samuel Sanchez and Alberto Contador were also in attendance; Sanchez as winner of the Olympic title in Beijing and Contador as reigning Giro and Vuelta champion.
Rebellin's season started with a win in Paris-Nice and included fourth at the world titles and silver at the Olympics, deserving of his status at the top of the tree in Italy. He finished with 1475 points, while Cunego amassed 1195 points to run second.
Italian national coach Franco Ballerini was present after yet another successful world championships campaign while another two members of the squadra azzurra, Marzio Bruseghin and Matteo Tosatto received awards for their contribution to the one-two result in Varese.
After winning an historic third Giro di Lombardia last Saturday and the silver medal in Varese, Cunego is certainly the toast of Italian cycling in what has been a vintage year for the nation's riders.
Beijing bronze medalist Tatiana Guderzo was recognised as the country's best female rider while Specialized took out the 'constructors' title. National Cycling Federation President Renato Di Rocco, Giro d'Italia director Angelo Zomegnan and the chairmen of organising committees for Varese and Treviso [Amedeo Colombo and Remo Mosole respectively] were all recognised for their achievements throughout the year.
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Images by Roberto Bettini/www.bettiniphoto.net
- Cycling's 'class of '08' gathered in Conegliano
- Alberto Contador and Damiano Cunego have a bit of fun with the celebratory cake
- Surely you're allowed to eat cake at the end of the season...