Cunego leads Lampre-Merida at the Tour de France

Damiano Cunego will lead Lampre-Merida at the Tour de France, while there is also a berth in the team for Przemyslaw Niemiec, who makes his debut in the race at the age of 33 after impressing en route to 6th place overall at the Giro d’Italia last month.

Cunego returns to the Tour after a one-year absence and will be hoping to repeat his performance of 2011, when he finished in 6th place after climbing in the leading group for much of the race. A stage win at the Settimana Coppi e Bartali in March aside, Cunego has had a low-key start to the season thus far, although he showed flashes of form towards the end of the Critérium du Dauphiné.

While Cunego and Niemiec will lead the line in the mountains, aided by José Serpa, Adriano Malori will take aim at the race’s two individual time trials. Malori’s fine win in May’s Bayern-Rundfahrt was founded on victory in the time trial, and he finished 3rd at the Italian championships in the discipline on Sunday.

In the absence of the retired Alessandro Petacchi, sprinter Roberto Ferrari is called into action for his second Grand Tour of the season. The Italian is without a win since joining Lampre during the off-season and he struggled to make an impact in the bunch finishes at the Giro.

Lampre’s Tour line-up also includes Matteo Bono as well as Tour debutants Elia Favilli, Manuele Mori and Davide Cimolai.

Lampre’s directeurs sportifs at the Tour will be Bruno Vicino and Orlando Maini. According to Gazzetta dello Sport, Fabrizio Bontempi and Maurizio Piovani were originally slated to be at the helm in France but will not now be at the Tour due to their involvement in a hearing resulting from the Mantova anti-doping investigation, which is due to take place on July 19. The long-running inquiry is centred around pharmacist Guido Nigrelli and his links to the Lampre team in 2008 and 2009.



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