Cunego sides with Simoni in Armstrong-Basso Giro battle

Damiano Cunego (Lampre)

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

Damiano Cunego (Lampre) will align with rival Gilberto Simoni to break the Lance Armstrong-Ivan Basso front at the 2009 Giro d'Italia. The Italian explained this week that he and his ex-Saeco teammate patched up past differences to confront the 100th anniversary of their home tour.

"With 'Gibo' there are discussions of alliances. A pact to resist Basso and Armstrong," Cunego told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

The 2009 Giro on May 9 to 31 promises to be one of the most popular editions in recent years, thanks to the participation of seven-time Tour de France winner Armstrong. He joins a list of overall contenders that includes Basso, Carlos Sastre, Danilo Di Luca and Denis Menchov.

Cunego and Simoni had been bitter rivals since their inter-team dispute at the 2004 Giro d'Italia. This winter the duo made amends despite now on separate teams, with Gilberto racing for Gianni Savio's Diquigiovanni team.

"Ivan and Lance will work together to block because of their friendship and their style of racing," he said. "We climbers have to try to counteract this. Gilberto knows the roads of the Giro better than anyone does. The 2009 Giro is one of traps and attacks."

Simoni is a two-time winner of the Giro d'Italia; having claimed the event in 2001 and 2003. Next season could be his last chance to try to win a third Giro as retirement looms nearer.

Cunego, who is focused on the 2009 Tour de France, is almost certain he will race the Giro. His other objectives are to win the Classic Liège-Bastogne-Liège in the spring and the World Championships in the fall. (GB)

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