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"In the end, we tried to limit the advantage of the Australian long-distance escapee (Rogers, ed.) with Mori and Cunego but there was no way that we were going to catch him," sports director Vicino says

Photo: Sirotti






20.10.2013 @ 19:05 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Merida) got finished a mostly disappointing season on a bright note when he finished 3rd in his final race, today's Japan Cup. However, sports director Bruno Vicino admitted that nothing could stop a seemingly invincible Michael Rogers (Saxo-Tinkoff).


It has been a difficult 2013 season for Damiano Cunego as the Italian has struggled to reach his former level all year. He got things off to a good start in March when he won a stage and finished 2nd behind teammate Diego Ulissi in the Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali but since then he has failed to finish in the top 10 in any race.


That bad trend ended today in the final race of the season when Cunego continued his string of successes in the season-ending Japan Cup. Having already won the race in 2005 and 2008 and finished 2nd in 2004, the Italian took his fourth podium in the race when he finished 3rd behind Michael Rogers and Jack Bauer (Garmin-Sharp).


After the early dominance by some of the local riders, the favourites showed their cards towards the end of the 151,3km race that was held on a tough circuit in Utsunomiya in rainy and cold conditions. Cunego was joined by teammate Manuele Mori in the 10-rider selection from which Rogers escaped on his own.


Despite hard work by Mori and Cunego, the Australian stayed away to the finish and so Cunego could only sprint for 2nd place. He was beaten by Bauer in the battle for the runner-up spot but the result comes as an encouragement at the end of a bad season.


Sports director Bruno Vicino was happy to see his riders end the season on a high but admitted that Rogers was the strongest rider in the race.


"Inspired by our many fans and sponsors, we did a good race but today Rogers has been very good," he said. "Due to his great form, he has been able to win in a race that was made harder by cold conditions and steady rain. In the end, we tried to limit the advantage of the Australian long-distance escapee (Rogers, ed.) with Mori and Cunego but there was no way that we were going to catch him."


"However, I have to congratulate the boys," he added. "[Simone] Stortoni and [Elia] Favilli worked very well for his teammates. Mori and Cunego made the final selection while our stagiaire [Valerio] Conti tried to get through the race despite some health problems. We wanted to finish the race with a success, but Rogers deserved the win and so we are satisfied with the podium."


Lampre ended their season with 16 wins.



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