Damiano Cunego

Damiano Cunego

Cunego at the 2006 Giro d'Italia
Personal information
Full name Damiano Cunego
Nickname Il Piccolo Principe (The Little Prince)
Born (1981-09-19) 19 September 1981
Cerro Veronese, Italy
Height 1.69 m (5 ft 7 in)
Weight 58 kg (128 lb; 9.1 st)
Team information
Current team Nippo–Vini Fantini
Discipline Road
Role Rider
Rider type Classics and climbing specialist
Professional team(s)
2002–2004 Saeco Macchine per Caffè–Longoni Sport
2005–2014 Lampre–Caffita
2015– Nippo–Vini Fantini
Major wins

Grand Tours

Giro d'Italia
General classification (2004)
4 individual stages (2004)
Tour de France
Young rider classification (2006)
Vuelta a España
2 individual stages (2009)

Stage races

Tour of Qinghai Lake (2003)
Giro del Trentino (2004, 2006, 2007)

One-day races and Classics

Giro di Lombardia (2004, 2007, 2008)
Amstel Gold Race (2008)
Japan Cup (2005, 2008)
Infobox last updated on
8 March 2014

Damiano Cunego (born 19 September 1981 in Cerro Veronese, Veneto) is an Italian professional road racing cyclist who rides for the Italian UCI Pro Continental Nippo–Vini Fantini.[1] His biggest wins are the 2004 Giro d'Italia, the 2008 Amstel Gold Race, and the Giro di Lombardia in 2004, 2007, 2008. He finished second in the UCI Road World Championships in 2008 and in the 2008 UCI ProTour. Primarily a climber, he has improved his Time-Trialing and he is characterized by a great sprinting ability, unusual for a climber.


Cunego began cycling as a teenager after being a successful cross-country runner.[2] He was discovered by Giuseppe Martinelli who also worked closely with the late Marco Pantani.[3] Cunego turned pro in 2002 at the age of 20 with Saeco Macchine per Caffè–Longoni Sport. Cunego won the Giro d'Oro and the Giro Medio Brenta in his first season as a professional with Saeco in 2002. In 2003 he won the seventh stage and the overall classification of Tour of Qinghai Lake.[4]

He came to prominence in May 2004, winning the Giro d'Italia at the age of 22 with Saeco Macchine per Caffè, which became Lampre–Caffita in 2005. Cunego's strength came as a blow to his captain Gilberto Simoni. Relations between the two during the race were strained when Cunego sprinted away from Simoni to win the 18th stage after Simoni's solo breakaway. La Gazzetta dello Sport reported that as Simoni passed by Cunego, who was surrounded by journalists, Simoni pointed his finger at the 22-year-old Maglia Rosa and angrily said "You're a bastard...you are really stupid."[5]

During 2004 he won the Giro di Lombardia in October, his 13th victory of the season. He finished the season number one in the UCI Road World Cup, the youngest rider to achieve it, aged 23. He was also the last rider ranked first on the world ranking, because from 2005 the ranking was replaced by the UCI ProTour.

In the 2005 Giro d'Italia, Simoni and Cunego were co-captains of Lampre–Caffita. Cunego posed no threat to Simoni. He faltered during the first climb in the Dolomites, losing six minutes in the day and any prospect of winning. At the time his team attributed his loss to a "psychological crisis" and Cunego said "a great weight has been lifted from me by this defeat." After the race, he was found to have Epstein-Barr virus. He did not enter the 2005 Tour de France.

In 2006, Cunego finished third in Liège–Bastogne–Liège losing to Alejandro Valverde and Paolo Bettini in a sprint finish. In the 2006 Tour de France Cunego was best young rider. He finished 2nd on stage 15 to Alpe D'Huez, after losing to Fränk Schleck, who broke away in the final 2 km. He also finished 3rd on stage 17, on the road to Morzine. In 2007 Cunego again won the Giro Del Trentino and his second Giro di Lombardia.

In 2008 he won the Klasika Primavera and the Amstel Gold Race,[6] with two powerful sprints against Alejandro Valverde and Fränk Schleck, with victory in the latter propelling him to the top of the UCI Pro Tour rankings,[6] as he also went on to finish second in the 2008 UCI Road World Championships.[7] He was widely tipped to be victorious in the 2008 Tour de France, but he struggled and eventually dropped out before the finish. By the end of the year Cunego conquered for the third time "the race of falling leaves" and then he ended the season with the victory of the Japan Cup, confirming himself as one of the best Classics Specialist in the world.

In 2009 he won the Settimana internazionale di Coppi e Bartali with victories in two stages; later he won two mountain stages at Vuelta a España being the favorite in the World Championship, where he arrived 8th.

In July 2013, he was one of 27 former riders and officials linked to the Lampre-Mérida team indicted for doping in an Italian court, with a hearing set for 10 December 2013.[8] In early 2014 however, details emerged that indicated that Cunego might have been one of few Lampre riders to refuse treatment by Spanish doctor José Ibarguren Taus, who was linked to doping practices.[9]

In October 2014, it was announced that Cunego will leave Lampre–Merida to ride with Vini Fantini-Nippo in 2015.[1]

Career achievements

Major results

1st Junior Road Race World Championships
1st Giro d'Oro
1st Giro del Medio Brenta
1st Overall Tour of Qinghai Lake
1st Stage 7
4th Overall Brixia Tour
6th Japan Cup
1st Overall classification Giro d'Italia
1st Stages 2, 7, 16 & 18
1st Giro di Lombardia
1st Overall Giro del Trentino
1st Stages 1 & 2
1st Giro dell'Appennino
1st GP Industria & Artigianato
1st Gran Premio Nobili Rubinetterie
1st Memorial Marco Pantani
2nd Japan Cup
4th Giro del Veneto
6th Klasika Primavera
9th UCI World Road Race Championships
1st Gran Premio Nobili Rubinetterie
1st Trofeo Melinda
1st Japan Cup
2nd Overall Tour de Romandie
1st Stage 3
3rd Tre Valli Varesine
7th Giro del Veneto
9th Liège–Bastogne–Liège
1st Overall Giro del Trentino
1st Overall Settimana Ciclistica Internazionale "Coppi e Bartali"
1st Stage 3
1st Giro d'Oro
1st GP Industria & Artigianato
2nd Giro del Lazio
2nd Klasika Primavera
3rd Liège–Bastogne–Liège
4th Overall Giro d'Italia
1st Young rider classification Tour de France
1st Giro di Lombardia
1st Overall Giro del Trentino
1st Stages 1 & 2
1st Stage 4 Deutschland Tour
1st Gran Premio Bruno Beghelli
5th Overall Giro d'Italia
4th Overall Tour of the Basque Country
5th Giro dell'Emilia
1st Giro di Lombardia
1st Amstel Gold Race
1st Klasika Primavera
1st Overall Japan Cup
2nd UCI World Road Race Championships
3rd La Flèche Wallonne
3rd Tre Valli Varesine
3rd Overall Vuelta al País Vasco
1st Stage 5
1st Points classification
4th Overall Tour de Suisse
Vuelta a España
1st Stages 8 & 14
1st Overall Settimana Ciclistica Internazionale "Coppi e Bartali"
1st Stages 2 & 3
3rd La Flèche Wallonne
5th Amstel Gold Race
6th Klasika Primavera
5th Overall Vuelta al País Vasco
6th Overall Tour de Suisse
7th Liège–Bastogne–Liège
8th UCI World Road Race Championships
5th La Flèche Wallonne
6th Amstel Gold Race
10th GP de Québec
1st Giro dell'Appennino
1st Stage 2 Tour de Romandie
2nd Overall Tour de Suisse
3rd Montepaschi Strade Bianche
3rd Overall Giro di Sardegna
1st Stage 2
6th Overall Tour de France
8th Overall Tirreno–Adriatico
2nd Overall Giro del Trentino
1st Stage 2
2nd Gran Premio di Lugano
4th Overall Tour of the Basque Country
6th Overall Volta a Catalunya
6th Overall Giro d'Italia
1st Mountains classification Tirreno–Adriatico
2nd Overall Settimana Internazionale di Coppi e Bartali
1st Stage 3
1st Points classification
3rd Japan Cup
4th Gran Premio di Lugano
4th Strade Bianche
3rd Giro dell'Appennino[10]
4th Giro dell'Emilia
5th Overall Giro del Trentino
6th Milano–Torino
8th Tre Valli Varesine
9th Volta Limburg Classic
10th Gran Premio di Lugano[11]
6th Gran Premio di Lugano
Giro d'Italia
Held after Stages 4–6, 10–19

Grand Tour General Classification results timeline

Grand Tour 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Giro 34 1 18 4 5 - 17 11 - 6 - 19 WD 44
Tour - - - 11 - WD - 29 6 - 55 - - -
Vuelta - 15 - - WD WD WD - - 33 - 76 - -

WD = Withdrew; IP = In Progress


  1. 1 2 Barry Ryan (2 October 2014). "Cunego signs for Nippo-Vini Fantini". Cyclingnews.com. Future plc. Retrieved 3 October 2014.
  2. "Damiano Cunego – Story". damianocunego.it. 17 June 2011. Retrieved 17 June 2011.
  3. Brown, Gregor. "Damiano Cunego Interview: Inside Casa Cunego". cyclesportmag.com. Retrieved 17 June 2011.
  4. Farrand, Stephen (2009-02-23). "Damiano Cunego: Rider Profile". cyclingweekly.co.uk. Retrieved 2009-01-27.
  5. "Damiano Cunego: Rider Profile". cyclingnews.com. 2004-05-30. Retrieved 2009-01-27.
  6. 1 2 "Cunego sprints to Amstel Gold win". BBC News. 2008-04-21. Retrieved 27 April 2009.
  7. "Road Cycling Worlds 2008". BBC News. 2008-09-28. Retrieved 27 April 2009.
  8. "Former Giro winner Damiano Cunego and 26 others indicted for doping". The Guardian. London. 19 July 2013.
  9. Farrand, Stephen (30 January 2015). "Report: Details of the Lampre Mantova investigation emerge". cyclingnews.com. Retrieved 26 July 2015.
  10. "Fraile wins Giro dell'Appennino". cyclingnews.com. 26 April 2015. Retrieved 26 April 2015.
  11. "Bonifazio fastest in GP Lugano". cyclingnews.com. 2 March 2015. Retrieved 2 March 2015.

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