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Cunego loves the Tour, but he'll give it a miss next year

Damiano Cunego (Lampre)

Damiano Cunego (Lampre) (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

By Jean-François Quénet in Morzine

After coming 2nd in L'Alpe d'Huez, Damiano Cunego badly wanted to win a stage at the Tour de France. He was fourth in Morzine, but got a compensation for another missed victory by taking the white jersey over from Markus Fothen, only by five seconds though. "This is a very nice jersey," he said. "I wasn't looking for it but now I want to keep it. I'm afraid of the time trial, but I'll fight for it. I've had such a great emotion on the podium presentation."

He was aware that "the latest Italian to wear it was Ivan Basso" in 2002. "We're both stage race riders." The white jersey of the Tour de France is usually a starting ramp for an U26 up and coming cyclist, not a reward for someone who has been the world's best rider two years before. "I came here to learn," Cunego explained. "The Tour de France is the university of cycling. I've loved it straight away. For an Italian, the Giro is the maximum but the Tour de France is the most important race for the rest of the world."

Laying 14th isn't exactly Cunego's standard. He's worth a higher position. "Last year I had a bad season," he reckoned. "This year, it's been better but I've been disappointing at the Giro. At the Tour, I have showed that I'm still Cunego. But it would be a mistake to be taken by my current emotions and believe that I can do the Giro and Tour every year. Next year, I'll do the Giro and the end of the season, but in 2008, I'll do only the Tour and I'll try and do it for the overall win."

The other jersey to be contested in the time trial on Saturday will be the white one between Cunego and Fothen who are both riding the Tour de France for the first time.

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