Cunego tops Italians in Flèche Wallonne
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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Cunego tops Italians in Flèche Wallonne

by Samuel Morrison at 5:01 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Flèche Wallonne

Italian Damiano Cunego returned to Flèche Wallonne, where he has twice finished third, with an aggressive race. Lampre went on the attack immediately and Cunego positioned himself for the fight up the Mur de Huy.

But it was not enough. The Lampre rider faded back as Alberto Contador and then Cadel Evans heaved forward for the win.

"Fifth place is not bad, it confirms that I am there," Cunego told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "For one reason or another, from the virus to the crash, there is always something that stands between me and the win. And I want to win."

Cunego was involved in the crash with Karsten Kroon (BMC Racing) around 75 kilometres to race.

"At kilometre 120, at the head of the group, there was a crash and I ended on top of some other riders. I did not suffer from the crash, but in that moment, the race was taking shape. First the run-up to Huy [the second of three ascents - ed.] and then the tension."

Lampre had the numbers. The Italian team placed Swiss David Loosli in the early escape of five men and it later had Italian Daniele Righi in an escape with Jens Voigt (Saxo Bank) and Chris Froome (Sky). In short, it was laying the foundation for a Cunego victory.

"Lampre rode as a great team," Cunego continued. "Loosli in the first escape, Righi in the second group and the rest around me.

"The decision was clear: to win it we would have to risk losing it. It was the right tactic because I was in perfect position for the final time up Mur, fifth or sixth position, on the wheel of Evans. But then I lost four or five metres, which I could not recover."

The 'wall' in the city of Huy is only 1300-metres long but packs its punch with a 25-per cent maximum gradient and an average of 9.3-per cent.

Though he has still to win Flèche Wallonne, Cunego has won the Giro di Lombardia three times and has finished third in 2006 at Liège-Bastogne-Liège. After a sixth in Amstel Gold and fifth yesterday, this Sunday, he aims for the most prestigious of the Ardennes Classics, Liège-Bastogne-Liège.


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