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Cunego caps season with Classic

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Damiano Cunego (Lampre - Fondital)

Damiano Cunego (Lampre - Fondital) (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Cadel Evans (Predictor - Lotto) wears the ProTour leaders jersey

Cadel Evans (Predictor - Lotto) wears the ProTour leaders jersey (Image credit: Ben Atkins)
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The peloton

The peloton (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Cadel Evans (Predictor-Lotto) leads Damiano Cunego (Lampre - Fondital)

Cadel Evans (Predictor-Lotto) leads Damiano Cunego (Lampre - Fondital) (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Damiano Cunego (Lampre - Fondital) climbs

Damiano Cunego (Lampre - Fondital) climbs (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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German Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner) rolls over to the start line.

German Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner) rolls over to the start line. (Image credit: John Pierce/Photosport International)
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Italian national champion Giovanni Visconti (Quick.Step - Innergetic) head to the start.

Italian national champion Giovanni Visconti (Quick.Step - Innergetic) head to the start. (Image credit: John Pierce/Photosport International)
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Tinkoff Credit System riders are interviewed on their way to the start of the season's final ProTour race.

Tinkoff Credit System riders are interviewed on their way to the start of the season's final ProTour race. (Image credit: John Pierce/Photosport International)
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Italy's Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) is relaxed on his way to the start.

Italy's Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) is relaxed on his way to the start. (Image credit: John Pierce/Photosport International)
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Cadel Evans (Predictor-Lotto) shows up in the ProTour leader's jersey for the first time.

Cadel Evans (Predictor-Lotto) shows up in the ProTour leader's jersey for the first time. (Image credit: John Pierce/Photosport International)
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Australia's Cadel Evans (Predictor-Loto) was in demand at the season-ending event.

Australia's Cadel Evans (Predictor-Loto) was in demand at the season-ending event. (Image credit: John Pierce/Photosport International)
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More fans greet new ProTour leader Cadel Evans (Predictor-Lotto).

More fans greet new ProTour leader Cadel Evans (Predictor-Lotto). (Image credit: John Pierce/Photosport International)
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Two time UCI World Road Champion Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step-Innergetic) rolls in to the start line.

Two time UCI World Road Champion Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step-Innergetic) rolls in to the start line. (Image credit: John Pierce/Photosport International)
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A Specialized bike for a special rider: Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step-Innergetic) sported a gold bike.

A Specialized bike for a special rider: Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step-Innergetic) sported a gold bike. (Image credit: John Pierce/Photosport International)
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A smiling World Champion Paolo Bettini signs autographs prior to the start.

A smiling World Champion Paolo Bettini signs autographs prior to the start. (Image credit: John Pierce/Photosport International)
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Many well-wishers came out to see Bettini one last time this season.

Many well-wishers came out to see Bettini one last time this season. (Image credit: John Pierce/Photosport International)
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Bettini rolls to the start admired by the Tifosi around.

Bettini rolls to the start admired by the Tifosi around. (Image credit: John Pierce/Photosport International)
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Paolo Bettini (Quick Step - Davitamon) is looking to emulate Alfredo Binda by taking three wins in succession

Paolo Bettini (Quick Step - Davitamon) is looking to emulate Alfredo Binda by taking three wins in succession (Image credit: Ben Atkins/Cyclingnews.com)
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Pavel Brutt (Tinkoff Credit Systems) wears a T-shirt depicting team mate Elio Aggiano who retired this month

Pavel Brutt (Tinkoff Credit Systems) wears a T-shirt depicting team mate Elio Aggiano who retired this month (Image credit: Ben Atkins/Cyclingnews.com)
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Daniele Nardello (Team LPR) is interviewed before the start

Daniele Nardello (Team LPR) is interviewed before the start (Image credit: Ben Atkins/Cyclingnews.com)
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Peter Wrolich (Gerolsteiner) lets his curly locks flow in the breeze on his way to sign on

Peter Wrolich (Gerolsteiner) lets his curly locks flow in the breeze on his way to sign on (Image credit: Ben Atkins/Cyclingnews.com)
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Last year's third place finisher Fabain Wegman (Gerolsteiner) will be working for team captain Rebellin today

Last year's third place finisher Fabain Wegman (Gerolsteiner) will be working for team captain Rebellin today (Image credit: Ben Atkins/Cyclingnews.com)
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Spanish Champion Joachim Rodriguez (Caisse d'Epargne) leads his teammates to the start line

Spanish Champion Joachim Rodriguez (Caisse d'Epargne) leads his teammates to the start line (Image credit: Ben Atkins/Cyclingnews.com)
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Stefano Cavallari (Acqua e Sapoe - Caffe Mokambo) will be working hard for Sefano Garzelli

Stefano Cavallari (Acqua e Sapoe - Caffe Mokambo) will be working hard for Sefano Garzelli (Image credit: Ben Atkins/Cyclingnews.com)
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Au Revoir Cedric. (Quick Step - Davitamon's Vasseur retires after todays race

Au Revoir Cedric. (Quick Step - Davitamon's Vasseur retires after todays race (Image credit: Ben Atkins/Cyclingnews.com)
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Andrey Grivko (Team Milram) before the start of the Giro di Lombardia

Andrey Grivko (Team Milram) before the start of the Giro di Lombardia (Image credit: Ben Atkins/Cyclingnews.com)
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Koos Moerenhout (Rabobank) rides in service of three-time World Champion Oscar Freire

Koos Moerenhout (Rabobank) rides in service of three-time World Champion Oscar Freire (Image credit: Ben Atkins/Cyclingnews.com)
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Cadel Evans (Predictor - Lotto) wears the ProTour leaders jersey after the disqualification of Danilo DiLuca from the overall rankings

Cadel Evans (Predictor - Lotto) wears the ProTour leaders jersey after the disqualification of Danilo DiLuca from the overall rankings (Image credit: Ben Atkins/Cyclingnews.com)
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Riccardo Ricco (Saunier Duval - Prodir) leads team captain Gilberto Simoni to the sign on

Riccardo Ricco (Saunier Duval - Prodir) leads team captain Gilberto Simoni to the sign on (Image credit: Ben Atkins/Cyclingnews.com)
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Gilberto Simoni (Saunier Ducal - Prodir) looks relaxed and could better his 2005 second place today

Gilberto Simoni (Saunier Ducal - Prodir) looks relaxed and could better his 2005 second place today (Image credit: Ben Atkins/Cyclingnews.com)
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Oscar Freire (Rabobank) will hope he can stay with the leaders and win the sprint in Como

Oscar Freire (Rabobank) will hope he can stay with the leaders and win the sprint in Como (Image credit: Ben Atkins/Cyclingnews.com)
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Peter Weening (Rabobank) left, leads the team in service of Oscar Freire

Peter Weening (Rabobank) left, leads the team in service of Oscar Freire (Image credit: Ben Atkins/Cyclingnews.com)
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Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) finished second in 2002, but hopes to go one better this year

Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) finished second in 2002, but hopes to go one better this year (Image credit: Ben Atkins/Cyclingnews.com)
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Thomas Dekker (Rabobank) could do well here, but will probably work hard for Friere instead

Thomas Dekker (Rabobank) could do well here, but will probably work hard for Friere instead (Image credit: Ben Atkins/Cyclingnews.com)
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Chris Horner (Predictor - Lotto) has the task of getting Cadel Evans safely to the finish

Chris Horner (Predictor - Lotto) has the task of getting Cadel Evans safely to the finish (Image credit: Ben Atkins/Cyclingnews.com)
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Yohann Gene (Bouyges Telecom) looks a little nervous this morning

Yohann Gene (Bouyges Telecom) looks a little nervous this morning (Image credit: Ben Atkins/Cyclingnews.com)
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Thomas Voekler (Bouyges Telecom) seems to enjoy every race he rides

Thomas Voekler (Bouyges Telecom) seems to enjoy every race he rides (Image credit: Ben Atkins/Cyclingnews.com)
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Alessandro Ballan (Lampre - Fondital) is always smiling, it seems

Alessandro Ballan (Lampre - Fondital) is always smiling, it seems (Image credit: Ben Atkins/Cyclingnews.com)
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Pippo Pozzato (Liquigas) just stepped out of a salon, apparently

Pippo Pozzato (Liquigas) just stepped out of a salon, apparently (Image credit: Ben Atkins/Cyclingnews.com)
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Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) has a job to do for Pozzato today

Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) has a job to do for Pozzato today (Image credit: Ben Atkins/Cyclingnews.com)
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Riders enjoy the sunny side of the street on a chilly Varese morning

Riders enjoy the sunny side of the street on a chilly Varese morning (Image credit: Ben Atkins/Cyclingnews.com)
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Damiano Cunego (Lampre - Fondital) was the last person to win before Bettini, can he do it again today?

Damiano Cunego (Lampre - Fondital) was the last person to win before Bettini, can he do it again today? (Image credit: Ben Atkins/Cyclingnews.com)
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Carlos Sastre (Team CSC) is apparently confident about his own chances today

Carlos Sastre (Team CSC) is apparently confident about his own chances today (Image credit: Ben Atkins/Cyclingnews.com)
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Stefano Zanini (Predictor - Lotto) was a rider in demand before the start

Stefano Zanini (Predictor - Lotto) was a rider in demand before the start (Image credit: Ben Atkins/Cyclingnews.com)
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Frank Schleck (Team CSC) has a good chance today after his fourth place in the Worlds

Frank Schleck (Team CSC) has a good chance today after his fourth place in the Worlds (Image credit: Ben Atkins/Cyclingnews.com)
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Due Campioni. Paolo Bettini (World and Olympic) poses with Giovanni Visconti (Italian) (both Quick Step - Davitamon)

Due Campioni. Paolo Bettini (World and Olympic) poses with Giovanni Visconti (Italian) (both Quick Step - Davitamon) (Image credit: Ben Atkins/Cyclingnews.com)
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Cadel Evans (Predictor - Lotto) still wants to ride a good race today to prove he's a worthy ProTour champion

Cadel Evans (Predictor - Lotto) still wants to ride a good race today to prove he's a worthy ProTour champion (Image credit: Ben Atkins/Cyclingnews.com)
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Stefano Garzelli (Acqua e Sapoe - Caffe Mokambo) has the quality and pedigree to have a good race today

Stefano Garzelli (Acqua e Sapoe - Caffe Mokambo) has the quality and pedigree to have a good race today (Image credit: Ben Atkins/Cyclingnews.com)
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Karsten Kroon and Andy Schleck ride to the start.

Karsten Kroon and Andy Schleck ride to the start. (Image credit: Ben Atkins/Cyclingnews.com)
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Damiano Cunego (Lampre - Fondital) wins the two-up sprint

Damiano Cunego (Lampre - Fondital) wins the two-up sprint (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Damiano Cunego (Lampre - Fondital) climbs strongly to the top.

Damiano Cunego (Lampre - Fondital) climbs strongly to the top. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Damiano Cunego (Lampre - Fondital) atop the Ghisallo climb.

Damiano Cunego (Lampre - Fondital) atop the Ghisallo climb. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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We're not sure it's more aerodynamic, but Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital) demonstrates the tongue-hanging-out descending technique.

We're not sure it's more aerodynamic, but Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital) demonstrates the tongue-hanging-out descending technique. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Cadel Evans (Predictor-Lotto) leads Damiano Cunego (Lampre - Fondital) up the climb.

Cadel Evans (Predictor-Lotto) leads Damiano Cunego (Lampre - Fondital) up the climb. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Cadel Evans (Predictor - Lotto) in his ProTour overall winner's jersey.

Cadel Evans (Predictor - Lotto) in his ProTour overall winner's jersey. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Cadel Evans (Predictor - Lotto) leads the bunch.

Cadel Evans (Predictor - Lotto) leads the bunch. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The peloton by Lake Como.

The peloton by Lake Como. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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World Champion Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step - Innergetic) in an aero tuck.

World Champion Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step - Innergetic) in an aero tuck. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The peloton passes by a marina during the season's final ProTour race.

The peloton passes by a marina during the season's final ProTour race. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Gone in a blur: Discovery Channel riders take in their final ProTour race for the American squad.

Gone in a blur: Discovery Channel riders take in their final ProTour race for the American squad. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Riders in the peloton takes in the amazing scenery during the day's race.

Riders in the peloton takes in the amazing scenery during the day's race. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Italy's Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital) leads the front bunch.

Italy's Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital) leads the front bunch. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step-Innergetic) shows the strain on his face.

Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step-Innergetic) shows the strain on his face. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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A pleased Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital) heads to the podium.

A pleased Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital) heads to the podium. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital) is congratulated by a team member.

Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital) is congratulated by a team member. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Riccardo Riccò (Saunier Duval-Prodir) was exhausted after taking second place.

Riccardo Riccò (Saunier Duval-Prodir) was exhausted after taking second place. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Riders travel by some more amazing scenery.

Riders travel by some more amazing scenery. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Australian Cadel Evans (Predictor-Lotto) rides in the bunch.

Australian Cadel Evans (Predictor-Lotto) rides in the bunch. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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The peloton passes some more spectacular scenery in Italy.

The peloton passes some more spectacular scenery in Italy. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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A couple of champions: World champion Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step-Innergetic) and ProTour champion Cadel Evans (Predictor-Lotto).

A couple of champions: World champion Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step-Innergetic) and ProTour champion Cadel Evans (Predictor-Lotto). (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Australia's Cadel Evans (Predictor-Lotto) rides in the ProTour leader's jersey for the first time this season.

Australia's Cadel Evans (Predictor-Lotto) rides in the ProTour leader's jersey for the first time this season. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step-Innergetic) leads a bunch of riders.

Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step-Innergetic) leads a bunch of riders. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) Riccardo Riccò (Saunier Duval-Prodir) and Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital) ride in the lead group.

Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) Riccardo Riccò (Saunier Duval-Prodir) and Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital) ride in the lead group. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) leads Riccardo Riccò (Saunier Duval-Prodir) and Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital).

Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) leads Riccardo Riccò (Saunier Duval-Prodir) and Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital). (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Spain's Carlos Sastre (Team CSC) was off the front of a group early, but didn't make the finish.

Spain's Carlos Sastre (Team CSC) was off the front of a group early, but didn't make the finish. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Some riders take a tumbel during the day's 242 kilometre race.

Some riders take a tumbel during the day's 242 kilometre race. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Podium (L-R): Riccardo Riccò (Saunier Duval-Prodir), Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital) and Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi).

Podium (L-R): Riccardo Riccò (Saunier Duval-Prodir), Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital) and Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi). (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Riccardo Riccò (Saunier Duval-Prodir) acknowledges his home crowd.

Riccardo Riccò (Saunier Duval-Prodir) acknowledges his home crowd. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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A happy Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) waves to spectators.

A happy Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) waves to spectators. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Podium (L-R): Riccardo Riccò (Saunier Duval-Prodir), Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital) and Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi).

Podium (L-R): Riccardo Riccò (Saunier Duval-Prodir), Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital) and Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi). (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Italian Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital) waves to a home crowd after winning the Giro di Lombardia.

Italian Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital) waves to a home crowd after winning the Giro di Lombardia. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Spain's Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) takes a bunch sprint victory for third place.

Spain's Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) takes a bunch sprint victory for third place. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital) takes a win on home soil to round out his season.

Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital) takes a win on home soil to round out his season. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Italy's Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital) starts his celebrations after sprinting to victory.

Italy's Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital) starts his celebrations after sprinting to victory. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital) claims the final ProTour race of the season.

Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital) claims the final ProTour race of the season. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Italian Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital) overtakes Cadel Evans (Predictor-Lotto).

Italian Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital) overtakes Cadel Evans (Predictor-Lotto). (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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UCI ProTour leader Cadel Evans (Predictor-Lotto) leads the race.

UCI ProTour leader Cadel Evans (Predictor-Lotto) leads the race. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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At the end of the season it is easy to lose concentration and crash.

At the end of the season it is easy to lose concentration and crash. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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The favourites didn't leave each other out of sight. While Liquigas' Pozzato still has his green arm warmers, Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) has his rolled down already.

The favourites didn't leave each other out of sight. While Liquigas' Pozzato still has his green arm warmers, Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) has his rolled down already. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Andy Schleck was committed to help his brother but when Fränk crashed the game plan changed.

Andy Schleck was committed to help his brother but when Fränk crashed the game plan changed. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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The break that was still there near the Ghisallo.

The break that was still there near the Ghisallo. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Stefano Garzelli (Acqua & Sapone-Caffè Mokambo) shows the effort on the day in his face.

Stefano Garzelli (Acqua & Sapone-Caffè Mokambo) shows the effort on the day in his face. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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The early break that was looking for some TV time but also to set things up for team-mates.

The early break that was looking for some TV time but also to set things up for team-mates. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Red, red and red are the colours of Cofidis this year. And when they line up to make the pace, others easily see...red.

Red, red and red are the colours of Cofidis this year. And when they line up to make the pace, others easily see...red. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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The attack by Andy Schleck was meant to soften up the competition. Thomas Dekker was the first to respond and he can be seen turning around and checking out what the others are doing.

The attack by Andy Schleck was meant to soften up the competition. Thomas Dekker was the first to respond and he can be seen turning around and checking out what the others are doing. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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The Ghisallo is the point where the favourites cannot yet win, but may end up losing the race.

The Ghisallo is the point where the favourites cannot yet win, but may end up losing the race. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital) is very attentive as he didn't want to miss anything at the front.

Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital) is very attentive as he didn't want to miss anything at the front. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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CSC showed how strong a team they are and never far from the front.

CSC showed how strong a team they are and never far from the front. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Carlos Sastre (Team CSC) showed the others a thing or two about Spanish climbing.

Carlos Sastre (Team CSC) showed the others a thing or two about Spanish climbing. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Paolo Bettini had to fight back after he didn't feel too hot on the Ghisallo climb.

Paolo Bettini had to fight back after he didn't feel too hot on the Ghisallo climb. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Cadel Evans wanted to make sure nobody would touch his ProTour lead - even if Di Luca would be reinstated later.

Cadel Evans wanted to make sure nobody would touch his ProTour lead - even if Di Luca would be reinstated later. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Evans gets a drink and some advise from his DS.

Evans gets a drink and some advise from his DS. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Tosatto tried to solo home but it was in vain as the favourites were not going to let this one get away from them.

Tosatto tried to solo home but it was in vain as the favourites were not going to let this one get away from them. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Riccardo Riccò (Saunier Duval-Prodir) on the left is still thinking about his defeat, while Cunego is all smiles.

Riccardo Riccò (Saunier Duval-Prodir) on the left is still thinking about his defeat, while Cunego is all smiles. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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The podium was completed Spaniard Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi).

The podium was completed Spaniard Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi). (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Tenax won the Coppa Italia classification.

Tenax won the Coppa Italia classification. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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A disappointed Fränk Schleck rolls to the finish as a crash dashed all his hopes of of his favourite races.

A disappointed Fränk Schleck rolls to the finish as a crash dashed all his hopes of of his favourite races. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner) couldn't quite repeat his third place from last year and was 46 seconds down in the end.

Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner) couldn't quite repeat his third place from last year and was 46 seconds down in the end. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Riccardo Riccò came close but got no cigars. Nonetheless, his season was impressive for the youngster.

Riccardo Riccò came close but got no cigars. Nonetheless, his season was impressive for the youngster. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Samuel Sánchez was happy with third.

Samuel Sánchez was happy with third. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Aggiano says good-bye after 11 years as a pro, Lombardia being his last race.

Aggiano says good-bye after 11 years as a pro, Lombardia being his last race. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Bettini and Evans before the race with their whitish shirts that sets them apart from the rest of the gang.

Bettini and Evans before the race with their whitish shirts that sets them apart from the rest of the gang. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Riccò makes sure he won't lose a wheel during the six-hour ordeal.

Riccò makes sure he won't lose a wheel during the six-hour ordeal. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Giovanni Visconti (Quick.Step - Innergetic) with his fiancée before the start.

Giovanni Visconti (Quick.Step - Innergetic) with his fiancée before the start. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Ok, honey I gotta go to work now, see you later.

Ok, honey I gotta go to work now, see you later. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Cunego on the podium and having such a great end to the season would make anybody smile.

Cunego on the podium and having such a great end to the season would make anybody smile. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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The podium.

The podium. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Things heated up at the Civiglio and Riccò in the centre was partially to blame for it.

Things heated up at the Civiglio and Riccò in the centre was partially to blame for it. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Tenax riders show off their win of the Coppa Italia.

Tenax riders show off their win of the Coppa Italia. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Elio Aggiano (Tinkoff Credit Systems) celebrates his final day as a pro, with Tinkoff team-mates.

Elio Aggiano (Tinkoff Credit Systems) celebrates his final day as a pro, with Tinkoff team-mates. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Tinkoff says good-bye to Aggiano.

Tinkoff says good-bye to Aggiano. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Ah, Bettini can squeeze a smile out of Cadel Evans.

Ah, Bettini can squeeze a smile out of Cadel Evans. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Evans getting ready for one of his most important races of the year.

Evans getting ready for one of his most important races of the year. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Ouch. Italian pavement is just as hard as anywhere else.

Ouch. Italian pavement is just as hard as anywhere else. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Lake Como is hope to millionaires and cyclists. Well, for the latter only in October.

Lake Como is hope to millionaires and cyclists. Well, for the latter only in October. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Filippo Pozzato (Liquigas) enjoys the early part of the race, which is a bit less hectic.

Filippo Pozzato (Liquigas) enjoys the early part of the race, which is a bit less hectic. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Tosatto was first past the famous chapel on the Ghisallo.

Tosatto was first past the famous chapel on the Ghisallo. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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CSC was leading out the chasers over the top

CSC was leading out the chasers over the top (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Look, no hands, ma. Cunego rides over the top with hands barred.

Look, no hands, ma. Cunego rides over the top with hands barred. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Visconti at the chapel.

Visconti at the chapel. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Pozzato is now feeling the heat of the race.

Pozzato is now feeling the heat of the race. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Bettini comes across and was suffering a little bit.

Bettini comes across and was suffering a little bit. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Cunego after the race.

Cunego after the race. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Here, the sprint is already over as Riccò has set up.

Here, the sprint is already over as Riccò has set up. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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The chasers coming with Sanchez getting third.

The chasers coming with Sanchez getting third. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Andy Schleck got fourth while Rebellin held off Evans.

Andy Schleck got fourth while Rebellin held off Evans. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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The front group in the latter part of the race.

The front group in the latter part of the race. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Cunego radios in for some advise.

Cunego radios in for some advise. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Schleck showed he was very strong.

Schleck showed he was very strong. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Cunego's first attempt to get away and his tongue position showed how much effort he put into it.

Cunego's first attempt to get away and his tongue position showed how much effort he put into it. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Sánchez, Riccò and Cunego lead Evans, who was mostly interested in the ProTour event.

Sánchez, Riccò and Cunego lead Evans, who was mostly interested in the ProTour event. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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The attack by Riccò and Cunego split up the front.

The attack by Riccò and Cunego split up the front. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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The duo quickly got away.

The duo quickly got away. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Riccò was very strong.

Riccò was very strong. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Both show the effort after racing for more than five hours already.

Both show the effort after racing for more than five hours already. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Cunego checks for weaknesses on his rival.

Cunego checks for weaknesses on his rival. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Evans goes down the hill but is not out.

Evans goes down the hill but is not out. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Which can't be said for Fränk Schleck who touched wheels and crashed.

Which can't be said for Fränk Schleck who touched wheels and crashed. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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No injuries, but some mental scars from crashing in such a promising situation may be.

No injuries, but some mental scars from crashing in such a promising situation may be. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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A neutral hand helps Schleck get up, but it's all over for the Luxemburger.

A neutral hand helps Schleck get up, but it's all over for the Luxemburger. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Oh, the pain.

Oh, the pain. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Well, might as well ride to the finish and not take the Mavic car.

Well, might as well ride to the finish and not take the Mavic car. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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The duo is distancing itself.

The duo is distancing itself. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Two Italians ride brilliantly on home soil.

Two Italians ride brilliantly on home soil. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Evans and Cunego.

Evans and Cunego. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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The Australian out of the saddle and trying to win the ProTour event.

The Australian out of the saddle and trying to win the ProTour event. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Dekker in the centre was there for Rabobank.

Dekker in the centre was there for Rabobank. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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The leaders

The leaders (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Riccò tried to shake Cunego but to no avail.

Riccò tried to shake Cunego but to no avail. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)

101st Giro di Lombardia - ProT

Italy, October 20, 2007

ProTour standings

Il Veronese tops Riccò in a two-up sprint in the "Race of the falling leaves"

Damiano Cunego has returned to win in the Giro di Lombardia three years after his first. The 26 year-old rider from Verona broke free with Riccardo Riccò (Saunier Duval-Prodir) over the top of San Fermo, and then bettered his Italian compatriot in a two-man sprint along the lake in Como to win one of cycling's five Monuments. Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) led the chase only seconds behind the winning duo, finishing ahead of Andy Schleck (Team CSC) and Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner).

"I want to thank my team, my sponsors and those who said that Cunego can't win any more," an exhausted Cunego said at the finish."To win this Lombardia you had to have been the strongest, especially on the penultimate climb," remarked 24 year-old Riccò. "I thought it was going to be a great race, with the attacks of Schleck. Unfortunately, at the end, Cunego was just a mark above me."

It has been three years since the magical season that put 'Il Piccolo Principe' in the spotlight - the year he won the Giro d'Italia with four stages along the way. He finished the year at the top of the UCI rankings thanks to his eight other wins, which included clinching the 2004 Lombardia over Michael Boogerd and Ivan Basso.

"I started my sprint in a very agile gear," Cunego recalled. "After that many kilometres it is always hard to sprint. I shifted to a faster gear as we neared the line."

He was impressed with Riccò. "His attacks on the San Fermo were really strong. We held six to eight seconds on the descent, looking back you could always see the chase. I managed the situation the best I could - I had to give it everything because he is very strong, also in the sprint."

However, today the little prince seemed to have the magic back in his stride. Thanks to the confidence gained from his win in the GP Beghelli he kept cool over the Madonna del Ghisallo (44.3 kilometres to go) while Team CSC mounted the chase of the early escape. The Danish team had Karsten Kroon, Alexandr Kolobnev and Andy Schleck ready to set up Fränk Schleck.

Kroon led the chase as the race started the Civiglio (15.7 kilometres to go). Russian Kolobnev followed his team-mate's actions with an attack that prepared the move of Luxemburger Fränk Schleck. Riccò and Cunego marked the recent winner of the Giro dell'Emilia with Thomas Dekker (Rabobank) and Cadel Evans (Predictor-Lotto) coming to terms on the 2.5-kilometre climb. 27 year-old Schleck hit the throttle again when he saw the Dutch and Aussie duo clawing back, successfully ditching the former.

Cunego gapped his companions on the descent of the narrow streets leading to the silk-producing town of Como. Riccò and Schleck worked well to keep the firing rider in sight while Evans struggled to control his machine, having his rear wheel slid-out on a couple of tight turns. The four were caught as the race neared Como for the start of the day's final climb, the 2.85-kilometre San Fermo della Battaglia.

Sánchez put on a splendid display of descending skills through the Italian villages to bridge with Vladimir Gusev (Discovery Channel). As the Spanish and Russian duo caught on so did Igor Antón (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Kolobnev, Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) and Luca Mazzanti (Ceramica Panaria-Navigare). On the last bit of flat heading towards the shores of Lago di Como and the punch of San Fermo, Schleck hooked wheels with Gusev in a moment of inattention. He was sent sprawling over the pavement as the race rode away from him.

"It was too bad," said his brother Andy after the race. Fränk gave Andy a hug, while looking down at his right elbow, disappointed. "I was very close," said Fränk. "We were going well; I felt good, but oh well."

Riccò and Cunego had the same idea on the San Fermo: turn off the lights of their competitors. The duo attacked simultaneously on separate sides of the road. Evans, showing brilliant form in his ProTour leader's top, led the re-grouping. Dekker and Rebellin also came to terms, but the Italian duo was not prepared to have company by the 397-metre summit.

The power from the young and nimble legs of Riccò and Cunego was too much for their rivals. Producing magical Lombardia memories, they rode clear of a fan-lined road to take the right-hander at the top with ten seconds. It was going to be touch and go for the final five kilometres, an elevation drop of 195 metres.

Harmony was easily achieved from the two who had both learned their trade under the guidance of Gilberto Simoni - Riccò is a current team-mate while Cunego road with the two-time Giro champion before they had their falling-out. Riccò led under the red triangle of the final kilometre with six seconds on the chase. He continued to lead through the final left-hander at 600 metres to go - it would be the last time he would see the front.

As the chase seemed to be closing on the final straight of Viale Rosselli, Cunego mounted his charge at 75 metres. He easily came around Riccò and had the race won when his younger rival sat up at 25 metres remaining.

At 10 seconds back, Evans held off Mazzanti and Dekker to take sixth. The points scored will put him as the out-right ProTour jersey winner. The 30 year-old was at a 15-point deficit to Danilo Di Luca who was not allowed to start the race due to to his suspension by the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI).

While Di Luca is appealing his disqualification from the competition by the UCI, Evans' sixth place ensured that even if the Italian is later reinstated into the ProTour rankings by CAS, he still finishes five points clear of Di Luca in the standings."

How it unfolded

The race started this morning at 10:40 in Varese, city of the 2008 Worlds, after one minute of silence in memory of the deceased Italian champion Vito Taccone. It was a fast start by the 179 riders, and Ivan Degasperi (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Selle Italia) was the first to go on the offensive, attacking 25 kilometres into the day's race. His advantage was small, and was whipped out before the first hour, done at 45.7 kilometres an hour.

At kilometre 12 there was a crash that involved Sylvester Szmyd (Lampre-Fondital), Javier Mejías (Saunier Duval-Prodir), Paolo Bailetti (Team LPR) and Daniele Contrini (Tinkoff Credit Systems). The fast pace of the race made it difficult for the riders to rejoin. Cyclingnews spotted riders abandoning only after the first 25 kilometres, when the race paced through Como.

Bernhard Kohl (Gerolsteiner), Matteo Tosatto (Quick.Step - Innergetic), Morris Possoni (Lampre-Fondital), Alberto Losada (Caisse d'Epargne) and Niklas Axelsson (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Selle Italia) got a small margin after a fast first hour of racing.

After two hours the group had reformed to seven, taking a grand 10'50". Kohl, Losada, Tosatto and Possoni were joined by Alan Pérez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Jesús Del Nero (Saunier Duval-Prodir) and Pablo Lastras (Caisse d'Epargne). The group counted four Spaniards, two from Caisse d'Epargne.

Halfway through the course, at kilometre 121, the group had an advantage of 7'25". But under the pressure of the peloton, the gap was reduced to about three minutes as the race hit the Madonna di Ghisallo climb, which saw the bunch as well as the front group disintegrate.

The breakaway was reduced to four riders: Matteo Tosatto (Quick.Step-Innergetic), Morris Possoni (Lampre), Alan Perez Lezaun (Euskaltel) and Alberto Losada (Caisse d'Epargne) remained in front. They were chased at three minutes by a group of 18 riders including most favourites (World Champion Paolo Bettini, the Schleck brothers).

Meanwhile Tosatto left his breakaway companions behind and took off on an impressive solo ride. Even on the descent of the Ghisallo, his three chasers couldn't rejoin him. The second chase group of 18 riders was 1'40" behind Tosatto.

Vladimir Gusev (Discovery) and Chris Horner (Davitamon) tried to break out of the chase group, but didn't succeed as three CSC riders worked at the front to keep the pace as high as possible, and then Karsten Kroon attacked as the remainder of the front group was caught.

Kroon quickly drove up to the dangling Tosatto on the Civiglio climb with 15 kilometres to go, dragging the favourites' group behind him. Damiano Cunego (Lampre), Fränk Schleck (CSC), Riccardo Riccò (Saunier Duval-Prodir) and Cadel Evans (Predictor-Lotto) were the strongest at this point and led the pack up the climb, but Bettini could not follow anymore.

In the descent, Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Vladimir Gusev (Discovery) managed to come back to the front. But once the riders got down to Como, Fränk Schleck crashed and saw his chances of victory destroyed as the others hit the ultimate climb, the San Fermo with six kilometres to go.

A chase group including Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner), Thomas Dekker (Rabobank) and Alexandr Kolobnev (CSC) reached the front group at the foot of the climb. Cunego and Riccò were the most active, attacking and countering over and over, until they were alone in front. The two Italians went over the top together and collaborated well in the descent and during the flat final kilometres into Como.

The chasers could not catch them again even though in the final straight, Riccò and Cunego were just within reach. The Saunier Duval rider was leading out as Cunego launched the sprint with 100 metres to go and came around him easily to take his first Giro di Lombardia and save his 2007 season.

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