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Damiano Cunego King of Lombardia

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Damiano Cunego wins his third Gir di Lombardia

Damiano Cunego wins his third Gir di Lombardia (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Cadel Evans had bad luck in the final, as he flatted

Cadel Evans had bad luck in the final, as he flatted (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Ballan and Sanchez smile before the race.

Ballan and Sanchez smile before the race. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Ballan takes a drink to get hydrated before take-off.

Ballan takes a drink to get hydrated before take-off. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Alessandro Ballan (Lampre) poses for the fans

Alessandro Ballan (Lampre) poses for the fans (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli won the Coppa Italia and is also a close contender for winning the longest team name award.

Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli won the Coppa Italia and is also a close contender for winning the longest team name award. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Damiano Cunego was banking on his Lampre team to deliver him to victory.

Damiano Cunego was banking on his Lampre team to deliver him to victory. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Cunego rides by the bike statue.

Cunego rides by the bike statue. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Sanchez was happy to be at the start

Sanchez was happy to be at the start (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Cadel Evans gave it one final hooray before heading towards home.

Cadel Evans gave it one final hooray before heading towards home. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Bettini is popular as ever

Bettini is popular as ever (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Bettini is still a star despite being retire.

Bettini is still a star despite being retire. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Everybody wants his autograph.

Everybody wants his autograph. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The riders take the start at 11:00

The riders take the start at 11:00 (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Ballan and Cunego are the two Italian darlings

Ballan and Cunego are the two Italian darlings (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Matteo Bono before the start.

Matteo Bono before the start. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Leonardo Bertagnolli (Liquigas) was chilly in the morning

Leonardo Bertagnolli (Liquigas) was chilly in the morning (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Mikhail Ignatiev (Tinkoff Credit Systems) ready to attack.

Mikhail Ignatiev (Tinkoff Credit Systems) ready to attack. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Robert Gesink (Rabobank) had no pressure as there were not enough mountain for him to shine.

Robert Gesink (Rabobank) had no pressure as there were not enough mountain for him to shine. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Paolo Tiralongo (Lampre) tried to stay warm

Paolo Tiralongo (Lampre) tried to stay warm (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Andrea Tonti (Quick Step) heads to the sign-in.

Andrea Tonti (Quick Step) heads to the sign-in. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) before the start

Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) before the start (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Mauro Finetto (CSF Group Navigare) ready to go

Mauro Finetto (CSF Group Navigare) ready to go (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Mauricio Soler (Barloworld) had some bad luck this season.

Mauricio Soler (Barloworld) had some bad luck this season. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Andrea Noè (Liquigas) ready to end the season.

Andrea Noè (Liquigas) ready to end the season. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The bunch rides along Lago di Como.

The bunch rides along Lago di Como. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The peloton in the picturesque villages in northern Italy.

The peloton in the picturesque villages in northern Italy. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Gimme my food – but the Lampre soigneur seems not the be used to hand out something to a guy in white and Ballan stayed hungry.

Gimme my food – but the Lampre soigneur seems not the be used to hand out something to a guy in white and Ballan stayed hungry. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Lake Como is nice for a vacation and nice for some bike racing.

Lake Como is nice for a vacation and nice for some bike racing. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The bunch passes Lake Como

The bunch passes Lake Como (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Cunego set the first blow at the climb up to Civiglio.

Cunego set the first blow at the climb up to Civiglio. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Cunego during the decisive moment when he dropped his companions on the descent.

Cunego during the decisive moment when he dropped his companions on the descent. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Cunego attacks the others on the descent of the Civiglio.

Cunego attacks the others on the descent of the Civiglio. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Cunego gives it his all in the break.

Cunego gives it his all in the break. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The fans helped Cunego by cheering him on like crazy.

The fans helped Cunego by cheering him on like crazy. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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A tifosi gets a great picture of the storming Cunego.

A tifosi gets a great picture of the storming Cunego. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Damiano Cunego (Lampre) climbed very well and looked very much at ease with his bike.

Damiano Cunego (Lampre) climbed very well and looked very much at ease with his bike. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Chris Horner (Astana) and Daniel Moreno (Caisse d'Epargne) tried to catch Cunego.

Chris Horner (Astana) and Daniel Moreno (Caisse d'Epargne) tried to catch Cunego. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Cunego looked in control as he climbed out of the saddle and danced on his pedals.

Cunego looked in control as he climbed out of the saddle and danced on his pedals. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Damiano Cunego wins his third Giro di Lombardia.

Damiano Cunego wins his third Giro di Lombardia. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Blowing kisses across the line Cunego takes a well-deserved win.

Blowing kisses across the line Cunego takes a well-deserved win. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Cunego celebrates his win

Cunego celebrates his win (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Cunego takes number three and everyone felt like the perfect season closer.

Cunego takes number three and everyone felt like the perfect season closer. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Janez Brajkovic (Astana) celebrated his second place in style.

Janez Brajkovic (Astana) celebrated his second place in style. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Giovanni Visconti (Quick Step) leads in the chasers some half minute later.

Giovanni Visconti (Quick Step) leads in the chasers some half minute later. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Janez Brajkovic (Astana) was happy with second place.

Janez Brajkovic (Astana) was happy with second place. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Cunego was jubilant after his exploit.

Cunego was jubilant after his exploit. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Cunego receives the winner's prize.

Cunego receives the winner's prize. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Cunego celebrates on the podium

Cunego celebrates on the podium (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Yep, number three for me

Yep, number three for me (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Cunego with his wife Margherita

Cunego with his wife Margherita (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Damiano Cunego had plenty of time to celebrate

Damiano Cunego had plenty of time to celebrate (Image credit: Riccardo Scanferla)
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A delighted Damiano Cunego wins his third Giro di Lombardia

A delighted Damiano Cunego wins his third Giro di Lombardia (Image credit: Riccardo Scanferla)
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You haven't lost that winning feeling... As Cunego takes the 102 Giro di Lombardia

You haven't lost that winning feeling... As Cunego takes the 102 Giro di Lombardia (Image credit: Riccardo Scanferla)
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Ohhhhh yeah! Or something like that... For Damiano Cunego

Ohhhhh yeah! Or something like that... For Damiano Cunego (Image credit: Riccardo Scanferla)
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Third time lucky for Lampre's diminuitive rider Damiano Cunego

Third time lucky for Lampre's diminuitive rider Damiano Cunego (Image credit: Riccardo Scanferla)
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Another great day for this Italian as Damiano Cunego wins a third Lombardia title

Another great day for this Italian as Damiano Cunego wins a third Lombardia title (Image credit: Riccardo Scanferla)
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Fists pumping, arms swinging, Damiano Cunego arrives at the finish

Fists pumping, arms swinging, Damiano Cunego arrives at the finish (Image credit: Riccardo Scanferla)
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Looking good as always was Ale Ballan, who finished 14th

Looking good as always was Ale Ballan, who finished 14th (Image credit: Riccardo Scanferla)
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Italians love a world champion, especially if it's one of their own

Italians love a world champion, especially if it's one of their own (Image credit: Riccardo Scanferla)
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Attention is on the new world champ, Alessandro Ballan (Lampre)

Attention is on the new world champ, Alessandro Ballan (Lampre) (Image credit: Riccardo Scanferla)
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While his team-mate would win Lombardia there was plenty of attention on Ballan

While his team-mate would win Lombardia there was plenty of attention on Ballan (Image credit: Riccardo Scanferla)
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Looking a little perturbed was Florent Brard (Cofidis)

Looking a little perturbed was Florent Brard (Cofidis) (Image credit: Riccardo Scanferla)
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The usual scrum surrounded Damiano Cunego after his win

The usual scrum surrounded Damiano Cunego after his win (Image credit: Riccardo Scanferla)
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A satisfied-looking Cunego surveys the media attention around him

A satisfied-looking Cunego surveys the media attention around him (Image credit: Riccardo Scanferla)
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The calm before the storm for eventual winner Damiano Cunego

The calm before the storm for eventual winner Damiano Cunego (Image credit: Riccardo Scanferla)
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Cunego and his wife embrace after his win

Cunego and his wife embrace after his win (Image credit: Riccardo Scanferla)
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Damiano Cunego looked good throughout the entire race on his way to the win

Damiano Cunego looked good throughout the entire race on his way to the win (Image credit: Riccardo Scanferla)
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Enrico Gasparotto (Barloworld) was riding his last race for the team

Enrico Gasparotto (Barloworld) was riding his last race for the team (Image credit: Riccardo Scanferla)
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Alessandro Ballan on the Ghisallo

Alessandro Ballan on the Ghisallo (Image credit: Riccardo Scanferla)
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Cunego was sitting pretty on the Ghisallo climb

Cunego was sitting pretty on the Ghisallo climb (Image credit: Riccardo Scanferla)
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Quick Step's Davide Viganò workd hard on the Ghisallo

Quick Step's Davide Viganò workd hard on the Ghisallo (Image credit: Riccardo Scanferla)
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Gruppo compatto ahead of the Chisallo

Gruppo compatto ahead of the Chisallo (Image credit: Riccardo Scanferla)
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Danilo Hondo (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli) finished in 56th

Danilo Hondo (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli) finished in 56th (Image credit: Riccardo Scanferla)
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The gorgeous Lago di Como provided the backdrop for a beautiful race

The gorgeous Lago di Como provided the backdrop for a beautiful race (Image credit: Riccardo Scanferla)
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The race organisation proved itself hospitable of the media

The race organisation proved itself hospitable of the media (Image credit: Riccardo Scanferla)
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Luca Paolini (Acqua e Sapone) didn't make it to the finish

Luca Paolini (Acqua e Sapone) didn't make it to the finish (Image credit: Riccardo Scanferla)
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Marco Pinotti (Team Columbia) before the start

Marco Pinotti (Team Columbia) before the start (Image credit: Riccardo Scanferla)
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'Gee, it's dark in here, boss...' Ballan has a chat in the tunnel to the team boss

'Gee, it's dark in here, boss...' Ballan has a chat in the tunnel to the team boss (Image credit: Riccardo Scanferla)
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Another year, another podium appearance for Damiano Cunego

Another year, another podium appearance for Damiano Cunego (Image credit: Riccardo Scanferla)
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The Lombardia podium (l-r): Janez Brajkovic, Damiano Cunego and Rigoberto Uran

The Lombardia podium (l-r): Janez Brajkovic, Damiano Cunego and Rigoberto Uran (Image credit: Riccardo Scanferla)
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Damiano Cunego salutes the crowd after winning another Lombardia crown

Damiano Cunego salutes the crowd after winning another Lombardia crown (Image credit: Riccardo Scanferla)
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Giovanni Visconti is presented after the race

Giovanni Visconti is presented after the race (Image credit: Riccardo Scanferla)
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Samuel Sanchez and Alessandro Ballan before the start

Samuel Sanchez and Alessandro Ballan before the start (Image credit: Riccardo Scanferla)
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Gilberto Simoni (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli) finished in 35th - not bad, Gibo

Gilberto Simoni (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli) finished in 35th - not bad, Gibo (Image credit: Riccardo Scanferla)
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Cadel Evan (Silence Lotto) chats with journalists in the start in Varese

Cadel Evan (Silence Lotto) chats with journalists in the start in Varese (Image credit: Régis Garnier)
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French hope Mickael Cherel (Française des Jeux) looks happy to be in Varese for his first Giro di Lombardia

French hope Mickael Cherel (Française des Jeux) looks happy to be in Varese for his first Giro di Lombardia (Image credit: Régis Garnier)
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Alessandro Ballan (Lampre) with some fans before the start

Alessandro Ballan (Lampre) with some fans before the start (Image credit: Régis Garnier)
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Damiano Cunego (Lampre) wins the Giro di Lombardia for the third time

Damiano Cunego (Lampre) wins the Giro di Lombardia for the third time (Image credit: Régis Garnier)
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Damiano Cunego was one happy camper after his win

Damiano Cunego was one happy camper after his win (Image credit: Régis Garnier)
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The podium (l-r): Janez Brajkovic (Astana), Damiano Cunego (Lampre) and Rigoberto Uran (Caisse d'Epargne)

The podium (l-r): Janez Brajkovic (Astana), Damiano Cunego (Lampre) and Rigoberto Uran (Caisse d'Epargne) (Image credit: Régis Garnier)
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Sanchez in his golden outfit

Sanchez in his golden outfit (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Cunego and Ballan were close by each other

Cunego and Ballan were close by each other (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Ballan takes the descent

Ballan takes the descent (Image credit: Sirotti)
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The bunch near Lake Como.

The bunch near Lake Como. (Image credit: Sirotti)
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The peloton rides away from the Lake up into the hills.

The peloton rides away from the Lake up into the hills. (Image credit: Sirotti)
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The bunch powers along

The bunch powers along (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Euskaltel put the team into the paceline.

Euskaltel put the team into the paceline. (Image credit: Sirotti)
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The attack by Gilberto Simoni (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli) stirred things up.

The attack by Gilberto Simoni (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli) stirred things up. (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Simoni quickly separated himself from the bunch.

Simoni quickly separated himself from the bunch. (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Simoni was joined by teammate Michele Scarponi.

Simoni was joined by teammate Michele Scarponi. (Image credit: Sirotti)
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But it was Stefano Garzelli (Acqua Sapone-Caffè Mokambo) who did most of the work later and Simoni was quickly dropped.

But it was Stefano Garzelli (Acqua Sapone-Caffè Mokambo) who did most of the work later and Simoni was quickly dropped. (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Garzelli rode a good race

Garzelli rode a good race (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Garzelli on the move

Garzelli on the move (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Ballan made his move on the Ghisallo.

Ballan made his move on the Ghisallo. (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Ballan passes the top of the Ghisallo climb and rides by the chapel.

Ballan passes the top of the Ghisallo climb and rides by the chapel. (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Simoni passes the chapel at the top of the Ghisallo.

Simoni passes the chapel at the top of the Ghisallo. (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Ballan was tired towards the end of the race.

Ballan was tired towards the end of the race. (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Things got a tad dark in the tunnel.

Things got a tad dark in the tunnel. (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Lampre kept things in check for the final phase of the race.

Lampre kept things in check for the final phase of the race. (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Cunego makes it number three

Cunego makes it number three (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Cunego wins after a brilliant solo attack.

Cunego wins after a brilliant solo attack. (Image credit: Sirotti)
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A happy Damiano Cunego delivers another win for Lampre.

A happy Damiano Cunego delivers another win for Lampre. (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Janez Brajkovic (Astana) won the sprint for second and celebrated like he had won the race.

Janez Brajkovic (Astana) won the sprint for second and celebrated like he had won the race. (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Brajkovic showed off his skinny body

Brajkovic showed off his skinny body (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Cunego's smile belied the effort that is clearly visible in his face.

Cunego's smile belied the effort that is clearly visible in his face. (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Giovanni Visconti (Quick Step) heads to the line.

Giovanni Visconti (Quick Step) heads to the line. (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Number three for Cunego.

Number three for Cunego. (Image credit: Sirotti)
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The podium with Cunego in the centre and second placed Brajkovic on then left, as well as Daniel Moreno (Caisse d'Epargne) on the right.

The podium with Cunego in the centre and second placed Brajkovic on then left, as well as Daniel Moreno (Caisse d'Epargne) on the right. (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Giovanni Visconti (Quick Step) wins the Challenge Weber

Giovanni Visconti (Quick Step) wins the Challenge Weber (Image credit: Sirotti)

102nd Giro di Lombardia - HC

Italy, October 18, 2008

Damiano Cunego, 27, won the Giro di Lombardia for a career-third time thanks to a risky solo move. The Italian of Team Lampre went free with 15 kilometres to race on the technical descent of Civiglio and won alone along the famed waterfront of Como with 24 seconds over Slovenian Janez Brajkovic (Astana) and Colombian Rigoberto Uran (Caisse d'Epargne).

"I am happy because it is my course and very demanding – It was a beautiful day and I gave it my all. I saw there was no one behind me," said Cunego at the finish.

The pressure was on Cunego as pre-race favourite and returning champion. His Italy-based team kept him protected all day and positioned him well for the day's final three climbs of Ghisallo, Civiglio and San Fermo.

"I knew that everyone was expecting a third win from me this morning. All the riders wanted to put me in danger and instead, I remained calm thanks to my teammates. There was great work from [Marco] Marzano, [Paolo] Tiralongo and [Alessandro] Ballan."

Cunego, victor of the 2008 Amstel Gold and the 2004 Giro d'Italia, also won the 'race of the falling leaves' in 2004 and 2007. He joins three other triple winners of Lombardia. Fausto Coppi holds the course record with five victories.

The 102nd Giro di Lombardia, one of only five Monuments, started in Varese and finished in Como. The riders covered 242 kilometres, which included the famed Madonna del Ghisallo.

Worlds' base sees riders off

The race started off in Varese at Villa Comunale, only a few metres from the point where Cunego's teammate Alessandro Ballan launched his winning move in the World Championships two weeks prior. The 168 riders rolled down Via Ledro at 10:59 and towards Como.

The riders covered the first kilometres at a blistering pace – 46.6 in the first hour. The group had splintered and 11 riders formed an escape once the race reached Como, and headed north along the western shores of Lago di Como.

Mauro Santambrogio (Lampre), Michael Rogers (Columbia), Pablo Lastras (Caisse d'Epargne), Chris Anker Sørensen (CSC Saxo Bank), Valerio Agnoli (Liquigas), Luca Paolini (Acqua Sapone-Caffè Mokambo), Francesco Bellotti and Enrico Gasparotto (Barloworld), Matteo Bono and Davide Viganò (Quick Step) formed a move that was able to resist until the Madonna del Ghisallo.

They worked, over the top of Intelvi at kilometre 55.9, and had a maximum lead of 9:25 at one point. The gap was at 6:50 after 100 kilometres of racing. They kept their gap through Valsassina – 5'30" in Cortinova, kilometre 142.2 – before the decent to Lecco and the start of the technical run to the base of Ghisallo.

Lampre keeps control

Teams Lampre and Quick Step led the main group in the early hours of the race. The former continued its muscle-work along twisty lakeside road to Bellagio and the start of Ghisallo.

The move of 11 narrowed down to four – Italians Santambrogio and Agnoli, Australian Rogers and Spaniard Lastras – before the 11.3-kilometre climb of Ghisallo. Gilberto Simoni of Team Diquigiovanni tore up the group behind with an attack on the early and stiff gradients of the climb. He faded, but his moved brought out Acqua Sapone Stefano Garzelli and Diquigiovanni teammate Michele Scarponi.

The front four topped Ghisallo and its sanctuary to cyclists 18 seconds over Sørensen and 46 seconds on the two Italians, Garzelli and Scarponi. Domenico Pozzovivo (CSF Group Navigare) crossed at one minute and the favourites passed at 1:25 back.

Team Lampre and CSC kept vigil for Cunego and Alexandr Kolobnev, respectively, leading into the Civiglio. Lampre, with the help of Ballan, pulled back the escapees before the base of the 2.5-kilometre climb.

Cunego makes move

Kroon lit a fire for Russian teammate Kolobnev on Civiglio. He faded, but Horner surged with Cunego and Francesco Failli of Team Acqua Sapone in tow. The three topped the climb with a slight margin on Daniel Moreno of Team Caisse d'Epargne. He chased and joined on the descent.

Olympic Champion Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) led the chase behind on the technical run down. He broke free and made his way to the front-runners on the tight switchbacks as Cunego slipped clear. Off of Civiglio, 12 kilometres to race, the Cunego held nine seconds on the four and 20 second on the group behind.

Cunego started 2.85-kilometre San Fermo with 12 seconds over the chase. Matteo Tosatto of Team Quick Step joined the Sánchez chase and soon there were around six others. Failli and Horner were most active in the move behind, but Cunego was gaining time.

He held 24 seconds at the top of San Fermo with five kilometres to race. Brajkovic and Uran broke free from the chase behind. They disparately fought for the honour of runner-up behind the king of Lombardia. The duo reached the line and Brajkovic won the sprint and lifted his arms in victory.

Australian Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) had a mechanical at the start of San Fermo and was delayed. He was a pre-race favourite.

Quick Step's Giovanni Visconti led the main chase home at 33 seconds back for fourth. The Italian, wearer of the maglia rosa in this year's Giro d'Italia, finished ahead of Kroon and CSF Group's Mauro Finetto. Horner, Garzelli, Morris Possoni (Columbia) and Failli took seventh through 10th, respectively.

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