Pole heads to first Grand Boucle in support of Cunego
Just days after riding into Brescia with sixth place overall wrapped up at the Giro d’Italia, Przemyslaw Niemiec has announced he will ride his first Tour de France, at the ripe age of 33.
Niemiec played a pivotal role at the Italian Grand Tour, nearly overhauling his Lampre-Merida team captain Michele Scarponi in the process and has stated he will now ride the Tour de France in support of Damiano Cunego. The Pole was Lampre-Merida’s best rider at the 2012 Vuelta a España, finishing 15th overall.
Cunego has not been at his best taking since his seventh place in the 2011 Tour de France but still managed two finish Grand Tours in 2012, taking sixth at the Giro before under-performing at the Vuelta Espana.
Cunego has taken on a heavy program of race days so far this year as he builds for the Tour. He showed promise in the early part of this year by winning a stage and finishing second overall at Coppi & Bartali race but failed to make an impact at the Ardennes Classics or at the Tour de Romandie and the recent Bayern-Rundfahrt. With Niemiec seemingly confidence-filled after his ride at the Giro, the Italian-Polish dynamic will be another interesting one to watch.
"I've ridden the Olympics, the World Championships, the Giro and the Vuelta but now it’s time for the Tour," Niemiec told French newspaper Equipe.
The standard schedule for Niemiec for the past couple of seasons has been circled around the Giro and Vuelta but with the Tour coming just weeks away, his ability to freshen-up and be fighting amongst the top contenders into the third week is yet to be seen.
"We'll see what shape Damiano is in. I'm going to the Tour to gain experience and we'll see what happens as the race unfolds," he added.