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"I will approach the Dauphiné with a dual purpose: I will try to keep an eye on the overall standings and stage win opportunities, also to score important WorldTour points for the team, and at the same time I will work to furthe...

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ANDREA PALINI

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CRITERIUM DU DAUPHINE

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DAMIANO CUNEGO

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ELIA FAVILLI

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JOSE RODOLFO SERPA PEREZ

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MASSIMO GRAZIATO

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MATTEO BONO

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MAXIMILIANO RICHEZE

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UAE TEAM EMIRATES

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30.05.2013 @ 18:03 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Damiano Cunego chose to forgo the Giro d'Italia in order to focus on the Tour de France where he will line up as the Lampre-Merids leader. He will fine-tune the condition in next week's Criterium du Dauphiné where he also hopes to bolster both his own confidence and the team's WorldTour points tally.

 

Ever since his 2004 Giro d'Italia win, Damiano Cunego has dreamt of once again triumphing in a grand tour and while he has apparently realized that that is unlikely to happen, he continues to target the grand tours - both to win stages and to aim for a good result in the general classification. In recent years he has favoured the Tour de France over the Giro as it is hard to be in top form for both the Ardennes classics and the Italian grand tour.

 

After a one-year absence, Cunego once again hopes to line up at the start of the world's biggest race and he hopes to make amends in the latter half of the season after a disappointing spring season. He appeared to be on the right track when he won a stage on his way to finishing 2nd behind teammate Diego Ulissi in the Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali in March but when it all mattered most in the Vuelta al Pais Vasco and the Ardennes classics, he was nowhere to be seen. His performance in the Tour de Romandie was another disappointment, forcing him to prove his worth from the Italian championships and onwards.

 

Traditionally, he has spend the month of June in Switzerland riding the Tour de Suisse, either in preparation for the Tour de France or as a last race after the Giro d'Italia and before a mid-season break. This year he has decided to turn things around and will line up in the Criterium du Dauphiné for the first time ever, just coming off a successful Bayern Rundfahrt where he helped teammate Adriano Malori take the overall win.

 

The race is of course mostly a preparation event as the makes himself ready for his leadership role in July but with WorldTour points becoming increasingly important, the triple Tour of Lombardy winner also hopes to bring home some kind of result.

 

"In my break form racing, I trained well, and my support work for Malori at the Bayern Rundfahrt helped me to find a good rhythm, " he said. "I will approach the Dauphiné with a dual purpose: I will try to keep an eye on the overall standings and stage win opportunities, also to score important WorldTour points for the team, and at the same time I will work to further improve my form."

 

Results are not only important for their points, they also play a huge role as a confidence booster. When Cunego reemerged as grand tour rider in the 2011 Tour de France by finishing 6th, he came off a merciless defeat in the Tour de Suisse, losing the leader's jersey to Levi Leipheimer by only 4 seconds in the final time trial. He hopes to be encouraged in a similar way in France next week.

 

“Winning always gives you a greater motivation to hang tough and work hard," he said. "A stage at the Dauphiné would give me a lot of conviction heading into the Italian championships and the Tour de France. There are some interesting stages at the Dauphiné, so along with the management, I’ll weigh up how best to chase the objectives.”

 

In France, Cunego will be assisted by climbers Jose Serpa and Kristijan Durasek who both played an integral part of the team's Giro line-up where they supported Michele Scarponi and Przemyslaw Niemiec. The roster is rounded off by the consistent Matteo Bono while sprinters Elia Favilli, Maximiliano Richeze, Massimo Graziato and Andrea Palini have just finished a successful Tour of Japan but will find the foing tough on the mountainous course.

 

The Criterium du Dauphiné starts on Sunday with a road stage starting and finishing in Champery.

 

Lampre-Merida for the Criterium du Dauphiné

Damiano Cunego, Jose Serpa, Kristijan Durasek, Matteo Bono, Elia Favilli, Maximilano Richeze, Massimo Graziato and Andrea Palini

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