Simoni the leader, says Cunego

At a press conference in Reggio Calabria on the eve of the 88th Giro d'Italia, defending champion Damiano Cunego has pointed to two-time winner Gilberto Simoni as the team leader of the Lampre-Caffita team. Cunego, who is perhaps not in as great a condition as he was last year, said that he will not be riding against Simoni.

"The important thing is that one of us wins the Giro," Cunego was quoted by Reuters as saying. "We all get on and I definitely think we're united as a team and that we're friends. I'm happy with that and I think it's fair to say that in the team we believe in Simoni's chances a little bit more than we do in mine.

Cunego added that he plans to ride this year's race differently, as he is also down to do the Tour de France in July. "This Giro is going to be harder than last year. With the introduction of the ProTour there are more foreign teams there. you have to expect a race with more aggression. For me, it is a different year. Last year, I had the factor of surprise on my side. The pressure is greater today. I had difficulty to train in peace in winter. But I believe I am in form. In the Tour de Romandie I felt good and I won a mountain stage."

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