Cunego fired up for Amstel Gold Race after 2012 crash on the Cauberg
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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Cunego fired up for Amstel Gold Race after 2012 crash on the Cauberg

by Shane Stokes at 6:35 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Amstel Gold Race
 
Italian climber motivated, but unsure how new finish will affect the race outcome

Damiano CunegoOne year ago Damiano Cunego lost a chance at a high placing in the Amstel Gold Race when he tangled with Lars-Peter Nordhaug (Sky) and hit the deck on the final ascent of the Cauberg.

The Italian was trying to respond to the acceleration of Philippe Gilbert and eventual winner Enrico Gasparatto but instead ended up on the pavement, eventually trailing in 31st.

This time round, he’s said that he’s used the frustration of that experience to motivate him for Sunday’s race, and that he’s determined to try to do as well as is possible as a result.

“One year ago, the race had a bad epilogue for me,” he said. “I want to change the story this year. I think I am in good condition, but of course the road will be the best test, as usual.”

One factor which could affect his result is the fact that the race carries on for almost two kilometres after the summit. Cunego is a far better climber than he is a sprinter, and so he knows that to win the race, he will have to be in superb form and also to play his tactics perfectly.

“The finish is different, I'm curious to see what it is like,” he said. “It could favour some riders to join the head of the race after the Cauberg.”

Cunego’s sole win last year was stage two of the Giro del Trentino. After a quieter season than he had expected, he’s shown good form this year, with victory on a stage of the Settimana Coppi e Bartali, second overall in that race and also victory in the points classification to his credit. He was also the mountains jersey winner in Tirreno Adriatico.

More recently he finished a solid sixteenth overall in the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, using that race as his buildup towards the Ardennes Classics. Cunego won the Amstel Gold Race in 2008 and is vying to do so again.

Lampre-Merida directeur sportif Maurizio Piovani also feels that last year’s mishap will fuel Cunego’s resolve this Sunday.

“The crash that occurred on the Cauberg last season gave Cunego the will to get some revenge and this will be an important spur for him,” he said. “The finish will be moved forward so we’ll go and study this.”

Cunego will be backed by Diego Ulissi, Matteo Bono, Davide Cimolai, Massimo Graziato, Manuele Mori, Daniele Pietropolli and Simone Stortoni. Piovani believes that Ulissi and Pietropolli also have the strength to be there in the finale. “Together with Cunego they could be a dangerous trio for the opponents,” he said.

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