Heavily tipped as one of the Vuelta favourites, Giro champion Damiano Cunego admits his sights are sPICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE Giro winner Damiano Cunego, who finished close on the heels of stage three winner Alejandro Valverde in Soria yesterday, has played down his hopes for the Vuelta, telling AS that his main goal for the end of the season is the world road championship in Verona next month. "I hope to ride a good race, but in theory the idea at the moment is to do 10 or 12 stages and try to win one of them," said the 22 year old, whose birthday falls on the day of the Sierra Nevada mountain time trial - September 19. Cunego is being billed as the main threat to Valverde in the Spanish press, and said he has been flattered by the comparison. "Valverde is a great rider, and we're even quite similar to each other in our styles. He is quicker than me in a sprint, but I think I'm a bit stronger than him in the high mountains," said the Italian, who also picked out Tyler Hamilton, Alexandre Vinokourov and Roberto Heras as potential Vuelta winners. As for the world championship, Cunego admitted that the Italian team will be led by Olympic road champion Paolo Bettini, but that he would also receive some protection from the home team. "The race is taking place just 20 kilometres from my home and on the same circuit where I won the world junior title in 1999. It would mean a great deal to me to win there again. I know the route by heart and I think I've got a real chance," said the young Saeco rider.