Chris Froome wasn’t the only grand tour winner to start his season down under this year. Now 34 years old, the former Giro d’Italia winner (2004) Damiano Cunego debuted his second season with Nippo-Vini Fantini at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race and the Jayco Herald Sun Tour. While Froome is now training in South Africa, Cunego is back racing on home soil.
Cunego finished 11th at the recent Trofeo Laigueglia, 6th in the GP Citta di Lugano and is now ready to take part in Strade Bianche. I asked him about his maiden trip to Australia and his plans for the early part of the season. Il Piccolo Principe (the Little Prince), as he’s affectionately known, replied:
For me, it was the first time in Australia and for the team this was an important trip for us to test ourselves against some of the world’s best riders. It was a great place because the temperature was ideal and we could work well in this temperature. Forthcoming races back in Italy include Coppi e Bartali, Strade Bianche, Giro del Trentino, Amstel Gold – which I’ve already won – and Giro d’Italia. So that’s plenty of competition and it was great to start the season in the warm because at this time of year Italy is really cold and it’s more difficult to ride for long periods.
Could there be a fourth Trentino or third Coppi e Bartali win on the cards this year for the Little Prince?
Header image of Cunego at final stage of Jayco Herald Sun Tour © Sheree