Italy’s Damiano Cunego will remain with the Lampre team for two more years, joined by Cadel Evans’ former sports director, Roberto Damiani.
Damiani “made a good impression on me,” Cunego told Italian paper La Gazzetta dello Sport. “He showed right away that he cares about the team and me.”
Italy’s Damiani currently works with OmegaPharma-Lotto as a sports director. He joined the Belgian team in 2005 to help Cadel Evans. In addition to helping Evans take second at Tour de France twice, Damiani worked for Fassa Bortolo and the Mapei youth team.
Lampre – who this year have been linked to past doping cases – will begin working strictly with Aldo Sassi at the Mapei Sport training centre near Varese. Both Evans and Ivan Basso are currently individual clients of Sassi at Mapei Sport.
“From my junior days, with the national team, I went there for testing. It’s one of the most recognised training centres,” said Cunego.
“They have everything that is needed to work towards the future, and to beginning winning again.”
Cunego won the 2004 Giro d’Italia and the young riders white jersey at the 2006 Tour de France. He has developed more as a one-day rider recently, with wins in shorter stage races and one-day races: Giro del Trentino, Giro di Lombardia, the Amstel Gold, two stages of last year’s Vuelta a España.
This year, though, he has yet to win.
“I’ve always been at the front, from February onwards. I raced the classics, the Giro, the Tour. I attacked and tried to take advantage of some stages.
“I needed to win a race immediately, even if it was not a very important one. It would have given me an extra edge.”
Despite the close calls, Lampre (team manager Giuseppe Saronni and Lampre’s owners) supported Cunego. Cunego said that he appreciated their support and offer to renew, and that he appreciated the new offers from teams Vacansoleil, Astana and Geox.
He will also have the support of Ukrainian cycling group ISD. Last week, Lampre also announced that ISD will take over for Farnese as co-sponsor for the next three seasons, through 2013. Damiani’s contract also runs through the same period.
ISD leaves its title sponsorship spot of second division team of Angelo Citracca. Citracca confirmed the renewal of Italian Champion Giovanni Visconti this month and soon, will announce a new title sponsor. The sponsor will collaborate with Mario Cipollini, who is currently the team’s technical sponsor with his brand of bikes and clothing, MCipollini.