Cunego Wins Giro di Lombardia for Third Time
Damiano Cunego (Lampre) has won the Tour of Lombardy for the third time. With 15 km left, Cunego powered away from four companions to win the 247-km classic, the final one on the European calendar, in 5:37:04. Janez Brajkovic (Astana) outsprinted Rigoberto Uran (Caisse d'Epargne) for second at 0:24.
From the start, the racing was fast. During the first hour, the riders traveled 46.6 km. When the race first reached Como (28 km), 11 riders escaped. They were Mauro Santambrogio (Lampre), Michael Rogers (Columbia), Pablo Lastras (Caisse d'Epargne), Chris Anker Sorensen (CSC), Valerio Agnoli (Liquigas), Luca Paolini (Acqua Sapone), Francesco Bellotti and Enrico Gasparotto (both from Barloworld), and Matteo Bono and Davide Vigano (both from Quick Step). The fugitives' lead maxed out at 9:25.
Early in the race, Lampre and Quick Step led the pursuit. Ahead, attrition took its toll on the break. When the escape reached the Madonna del Ghisallo (197.7 km), it was down to four riders. They were Santambrogio, Rogers, Lastras, and Agnoli. Gilberto Simoni (Diquigiovanni) attacked, and Stefano Garzelli (Acqua Sapone) and Michele Scarponi (Diquigiovanni) countered. At the summit of the climb, the leading quartet had 0:18 on Sorensen and 0:46 on Garzelli and Scarponi. The peloton was at 1:25.
Lampre, now assisted by CSC, continued the chase. The Italian squad reeled in the escape just short of the base of the Civiglio.
Karsten Kroon (CSC) attacked. Chris Horner (Astana) countered and took Cunego and Francesco Failli (Acqua Sapone) with him. Daniel Moreno (Caisse d'Epargne) bridged up to the move. Olympic road race champion Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel) signed on to the move on the descent.
Just as Sanchez reached the move, Cunego attacked. With 12 km remaining, the Lampre man led his erstwhile companions by 0:12 and the peloton by 0:20. With five km remaining, Cunego led the chase group by 0:24.
Brajkovic and Uran attacked from the peloton. They overtook the chase group and fought for second place. Brajkovic took the sprint from Uran.
Cunego's victory made history. The Italian, who won the race in 2004 and 2007, joined Costante Girardengo, Gino Bartali, and Sean Kelly as three-time winners of the Race of the Falling Leaves. Only Alfredo Binda (four victories) and Fausto Coppi (five victories) won the Giro di Lombardia more than Cunego.