Damiano Cunego Wins Stage 2 of Tour de Romandie 2011
Former Giro d'Italia winner Damiano Cunego outwitted the rest of the field to win the 171.8-km second stage of the Tour of Romandy 2011 and alleviate his Lampre team's concerns in Switzerland this past afternoon.
Former Giro d'Italia winner Damiano Cunego outwitted the rest of the field to win the 172 kilometer second stage of the Tour of Romandy 2011 and alleviate his Lampre team's concerns in Switzerland this past afternoon.
The 2004 Giro d'Italia champion surged in the last kilometer to outsprint 2009 world champion Cadel Evans (Team BMC Racing) and former Vuelta winner Alexander Vinokourov (Team Astana), a podium comprising probably the three strongest riders in the race this year.
Their collective effort in the last climb of the day, the first category Gibloux pass, was not enough to oust Russian Pavel Brutt from the overall lead.
Brutt, the winner of Wednesday's stage 1, crossed the line 01:20 behind the leading group to retain his yellow jersey with a 38-second lead over Cunego.
"My goal here was a stage win and I owe it to the team, who did their part of the job to close the gaps today.
"In the finale, Simon Spilak (Slovenian defending champion) brought me back to the front and I delivered a fairly good sprint," Cunego - who was unusually lacklustre in the Spring one-day classics after crashing in the Fleche Wallonne - commented after the finish.
It was the 29-year-old rider from Verona's third victory this season after a Tour of Sardinia stage win and the Tour of the Apennines victory. It was also his second stage win in the Tour of Romandie after a previous success in 2005.
His Lampre team have mostly made headlines for the wrong reasons this season after some of their riders and staff were investigated by Italian police as part of a widespread anti-doping operation.
Italian media also named Cunego as one of 32 people named in a report by a Mantova prosecutor in the case.
"I wouldn't say the turmoil did not affect me, but I'm a professional and I did my best to remain focused and not let the problems around the team hamper my performances," Cunego commented.
The Italian announced early this season that he will not take part in the 2011 Giro d'Italia next month because he wants to focus on the classics and the Tour de France this year. Lampre's leader on the Italian Giro d'Italia 2011 will be Michele Scarponi.
"You have choices to make between being a classic specialist and a Tour rider and it's a choice I never really managed to make," he said.
Friday's third stage is a 168 kilometer flat stage between the Swiss cities of Thierrens and Neuchatel.