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Cunego changes focus after Hautacam blow-out

By Gregor Brown in Argelè-Gazost (Hautacam), France

Italian Damiano Cunego has been forced to shift his Tour de France focus from general classification to stage wins following a mountainous blow in the Pyrenean stage to Hautacam.

"What else is there? To arrive eighth in the Tour de France is nothing," said Cunego.

The Lampre leader finished the 156 kilometre Stage 10, which travelled over the Col du Tourmalet climb and finished on top of the Hautacam, down in 18th place nearly six minutes behind stage winner Leonardo Piepoli (Saunier Duval - Scott). Cunego was forced out of the action on the Col du Tourmalet under the pressure of Team CSC, which drove the pace high on the Tour's first mountains teaser.

Despite the help of team-mate Sylvester Szmyd and teaming up with Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne), Cunego lost 3'34" to the group of new race leader Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto).

"CSC was making an infernal rhythm with five kilometres remaining of the Tourmalet," he said. "I thought I would be able to rejoin on the decent - they were there at 40 seconds - but then on the flat they kept adding more time. On the last climb, they also burnt it up.

"On the last climb, I went all out and doing everything I could," he said. "We pick up some riders that had been dropped. I did my attacks to try to drop some of the other riders and maybe move a bit up the classification."

Sitting 16th overall at 5'37" back from Cadel Evans, Cunego's chances of a podium finish have at best diminished. He will examine the classification charts over the Tour's first rest day in Pau today.

"Certainly, things have become difficult because my rivals are going so strong," he said.

Cunego isn't completely giving up on the overall though, although he did admit it would require an "unthinkable" turn of events. Earlier in the race he pointed out that he has won races by fighting back when the odds against him and he continued with this stance as he spoke from the team bus.

"Remember the Tour is still not over and in the last week the classification could turn around in an unthinkable way," he said.

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