By Gregor Brown
Pietro Caucchioli, fifth in the recent Deutschland Tour, will ride for Team Lampre for the 2009 to help Damiano Cunego in the Grand Tours. The 33 year-old from Verona, Italy, leaves Crédit Agricole after four years. "It makes me happy that they gave me faith," he said to Cyclingnews Friday afternoon. Lampre Team Manager Giuseppe Saronni signed Caucchioli to help Cunego, winner of the 2004 Giro d'Italia, in the Grand Tours.
Caucchioli, 10 years as a professional, had to look for new team when Roger Legeay, Crédit Agricole's Team Manager, was unable to find a replacement sponsor for the outgoing French financial backer. However, Caucchioli had other reasons to go on the job hunt. "Uncertainly, after the season this year, I had to find someone else to give me faith. The races that I was able to do well I could not. Because I was not there physically, I was left at home by my team."
Crédit Agricole signed Caucchioli in 2004 to help with its internationalisation in light of the newly introduced ProTour. "The first two years went well," Caucchioli continued. "[Directeur Sportif] Serge Beucherie decided he did not have faith in me and left me at home for the most important races [this year], the ones most suited to me."
The team search and desire to prove himself yielded in a strong performance in the Deutschland Tour. He placed fourth in the stage one, the queen stage, second in stage two and fifth in the overall classification.
"I showed I can be up front. I have always only had results, more or less, in the big Grand Tours. This was the first year in my career that I did not race a Grand Tour. I want to show myself at the first occasion – next year at the Giro d'Italia. ... I will help Damiano Cunego ... [José Luis] Rubiera and [Roberto] Heras showed the same thing when pulling for [Lance] Armstrong in their later years."
Caucchioli believes fellow Veronese Cunego will face a strong challenge in 2008 for the Giro or Tour de France. "He has already won a Grand Tour and he can do it again. I don't know about next year, I know Ivan Basso has a strong desire for the Giro and at the Tour there will be Armstrong. Armstrong is not returning for nothing, if he returns it is because he believes he can win the Tour for an eighth time."
Manuele Mori and Enrico Gasparotto join Caucchioli as recent Lampre signings.