Damiani split between Omega Pharma and Lampre
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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Damiani split between Omega Pharma and Lampre

by Samuel Morrison at 5:22 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Italian sports director will work for Gilbert and Cunego

Roberto Damiani will split his season between two teams next year: OmegaPharma and Lampre.

The respected Italian sports director is being pulled in two directions. He wants to begin a new project with Italian team Lampre-ISD, but the Belgians want him to stay put, at least until Milano-Sanremo on March 19.

Damiani will help OmegaPharma's star Philippe Gilbert, even if that means stopping Lampre's star sprinter Alessandro Petacchi from winning Milano-Sanremo.

"You need to be balanced and professional," Damiani told La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper.

"Certainly, my main interest is for the new challenge. But you can forget about the idea that Omega will pull for Petacchi at Sanremo. If I am in the team car, it will be to win with Gilbert. It would be dishonest and unfair otherwise.

"I will speak with [OmegaPharma's team manager, Marc] Sergeant again after Sanremo. I hope that a painless solution can be found. Meanwhile, as of January 6, I will be in Australia for the Tour Down Under. So I'll do Strade Bianche, Sanremo and Tirreno with the old team."

Damiani joined Sergeant's Predictor-Lotto team in 2007 to work with Cadel Evans. He helped Evans finish twice second at the Tour de France. However, Evans left last year and Lampre began to call after Franco Ballerini died. Lampre wanted team Italy's former sports director, Ballerini to take the head sports director post, but he died in a rally car crash on February 7.

Damiani was ready to step in and take the Lampre role, but there was a catch.

"After the Tour, I told Sergeant that I wanted to go, to get back into the game in Italy," said Damiani. "He seemed to agree. But then some important riders [Gilbert and Van Den Broeck - ed.] told me that they had asked for me to stay. My contract had a clause in the first two years where it could be annulled without penalty. In 2008, when I renewed for another three years, this clause had been changed without my knowledge. I asked the Belgians to come up with an annulment fee and they responded with my race programme."

Lampre wants Damiani to guide the team back to the top in Italy, to be equal, if not better than rival team Liquigas.

"At first, I found the same atmosphere that I found when I arrived at Omega. They felt like the second team of Belgium, behind Quick Step. However, with respect to Liquigas, Lampre is second to none."


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