By Gregor Brown in Digne-les-Bains
A recharged Damiano Cunego is ready for the next mountain battles through the Alps after a disappointing few days in the Pyrénées. The 26 year-old Italian faced a blow last Monday when the group of overall favourites, including race leader Cadel Evans, left him behind on the road to Hautacam. His 3'34" loss that day put him in 14th overall, 5'37" back from maillot jaune Evans.
"I have definitely felt better in this last week," Cunego told Cyclingnews outside the Arena of Nimes at the start of stage 14.
Cunego has a chance to made amends in the Alps, when the race heads into Italy with a finish up to Prato Nevoso on Sunday. Following a rest day in Cuneo on Monday, there are two more demanding stages to Jausiers and Alpe d'Huez.
"It seems as though I have become better, but I don't know if I will try something on Prato Nevoso," Cunego added. "On the Alpe d'Huez, which will be harder because it is the third day in the mountains, I might have a chance to show myself better."
His wife and daughter will visit him at the finish of Prato Nevoso and the rest day. "They will give me extra morale, definitely."
Cunego's day at the Tour regularly ends with a visit to the French anti-doping agency's (AFLD) camper van, where he is required to provide a urine sample. The organisation, replacing the International Cycling Union (UCI) at this year's Tour de France, tests the stage winner of the day in addition to other targeted riders. Cunego is often on the AFLD list posted at the stage finish.
"For sure, it is not a problem to do the controls," he said. "Day in and day out, it can become irritating. I want to rest, take a shower and go change after the stage. You always have to rush to get there. But what can I do?"
Asked for his opinion on the AFLD's testing protocols, and whether they were better than those adopted by the UCI, Cunego replied simply: "I don't know, let's hope so."