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"My race was ruined by the crash in the front of the group when I hit Rui Costa. I was really close to him as it happened in the end where we tried to avoid losing positions," Cunego says

Photo: Sirotti










23.04.2014 @ 20:13 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Lampre-Merida was plagued by an extreme amount of bad luck in today's Fleche Wallonne. With less than 3km to go, Damiano Cunego hit the wheel of his teammate Rui Costa which took both riders out of the finale and significantly delayed the team's third weapon Diego Ulissi who was the team's best in 17th.


With three potential top 10 candidates all well positioned near the front of the peloton, everything was looking bright for Lampre-Merida in today's Fleche Wallonne. Inside the final 3km, however, it all turned sour for the Italians when they lost all options in a split second.


World champion Rui Costa was forced to make a sudden swerve when riding with teammates Damiano Cunego and Diego Ulissi on his wheel and the maneouvre caused Cunego to hit his wheel. While the Italian hit the deck - luckily without any serious injuries - the world champion was left with a broken wheel that took him out of contention.


That left the team with only Ulissi for the finale but the Italian had been significantly hampered by the incident. Having been forced to brake, he lost his good position and started the Mur de Huy at the rear end of the group. Nonetheless, he managed to pass several riders on the climb, finishing the day in 17th.


"Today, there's no reason to hide that I was really good," Cunego said. "I think that you have also seen on TV that we rode very well and always in the lead up to those damned 3 kilometers from the end.


"My race was ruined by the crash in the front of the group when I hit Rui Costa. I was really close to him as it happened in the end where we tried to avoid losing positions. I could not avoid hitting his wheel and hit the ground. We are sorry because he, Ulissi and I could really have done well in the finale."


"I'm really frustrated by the way the race ended," Costa said. "All day we had been working hard to stay in the top positions of the group and less than 3 km from the finish line a crash destroyed it all. This episode should give us even more motivation for Sunday."


"Seeing the whole team work so well today and then seeing it all getting destroyed in a sudden moment is a great shame," Ulissi said. "It was bad for both Damiano, who crashed, Rui who had a mechanical, and and me as I had to move back into position after being forced to brake because of the crash. After today I remain hopeful, however, because my legs were ok. Otherwise I would not have been able to pass so many riders on the Mur de Huy to take 17th.


"Today, unfortunately, we have not seen our real potential," sports director Joxean Fernandez Matxin said. "We had 3 riders in the end and I'm sure they could have had their say. We just have to face the next race with even more desire."



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