Shorts: Cunego, ProTour, Ardila

No change for Damiano Cunego as he targets the Giro, French federation give their backing to ASO, Ar

No change for Damiano Cunego as he targets the Giro, French federation give their backing to ASO, Ar


Lampre-Caffita team manager Giuseppe Martinelli has said that Damiano Cunego's main objective next season will be to regain the Giro d'Italia title he won in such swashbuckling fashion in 2004. "In a race that is by all accounts supposed to be mountainous, Cunego will be going for victory," Martinelli told the Italian media. Martinelli added that Cunego is also set to make his Tour debut next season having missed this year's race due to glandular fever.

Martinelli was speaking at the launch of 28 Seconds, a TV film about Lampre's participation in this year's Giro, which was won by that margin by Paolo Savoldelli, with Lampre's Gilberto Simoni second. The Lampre boss stated that he felt several teams rode against his at the Giro because they were afraid of his squad's two-pronged attack, and this ultimately cost Simoni overall victory. Martinelli emphasised that regaining the Giro title would be his team's main objective next season, and that the team he picks for the Tour will be riding mostly for experience.

- Perhaps not too surprisingly, the French federation have lined up behind Tour organisers ASO in their ongoing conflict with the International Cycling Union over the ProTour and doping issues. "I agree with what [ASO boss] Patrice Clerc said at the 2006 Tour presentation," said federation president Jean Pitallier when asked by L'Equipe about the dispute. "I don't understand the letter sent by [UCI president] Pat McQuaid. I was next to him during the presentation and he didn't seem to be shocked by what was said. He even applauded the speeches. I think [former UCI president Hein] Verbruggen is behind this," Pitallier affirmed, adding that he was "very disappointed that McQuaid is following Verbruggen's line".

Last week the UCI sent ASO a letter announcing a break in discussions over the ProTour following comments by Clerc and other ASO staff about doping in the sport. Pitallier also declared that, like ASO, he felt that the ProTour had "too mant teams and too many races".

- Sources in Holland suggest that Colombian rider Mauricio Ardila, who won the 2004 Tour of Britain, is close to agreeing a three-year deal with Rabobank. Last week the Belgian press reported that Ardila was extremely disgruntled with the terms of his contract with Davitamon-Lotto, particularly with a reportedly very low salary. The Colombian is reported to have been offered a deal by Rabobank of a million euros over three seasons, with 200,000 euros from that total being used to buy him out of his current contract. The deal is rumoured to boost Ardila's earnings by more than 500 per cent.

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