Italy?s Damiano Cunego (Lampre) did not start today?s 19th stage of the Tour de France from Roanne to Montlucon after his nasty crash during stage 18.
Cunego cut his chin and his jersey was left in tatters after hitting a wall at speed after 35km of the stage. He managed to make it to the finish thanks to help from four team mates but his injuries made it impossible for him to continue. As the Tour headed northwest towards Paris, Cunego headed east back to his home in Verona.
?I had five stitches put in my chin last night in hospital but that isn?t the big problem, I just couldn?t sit in the saddle and pedal, I can?t breath. There?s no point in me suffering any more.? Cunego said.
Cunego crashed when his bike got stuck in a gulley as the peloton crossed a bridge after 35km. He hit a wall with his chest and chin and was clearly in pain. He got back on his bike, was treated by the race doctor but was slightly concussed and in shock. His team mates pushed and encouraged him to carry on but Cunego finished the stage 20-12 behind stage winner Marcus Burghardt (Columbia).
ITALIAN HOPES FOR BETTER FORM IN OLYMPIC ROAD RACE
The 26 year-old Italian was considered an overall contender at the start of the Tour de France and missed the Giro d?Italia in May to focus on preparing for the Tour. He rode well in the early Cholet time trial but the gradually lost time in the mountains and struggled to finish in the lead group in the Alps.
Cunego will sit down with the Lampre team to analyse what went wrong at the Tour de France but is hoping to recover quickly from his crash and try and find some form for the road race at the Beijing Olympics.
?I?m sorry I?ve had to quit and it?s been a terrible Tour de France for me. It?s been really tough, I?ve been unlucky and I haven?t got any results. I hope I can turn things around for the Olympics and then the world championships in Italy in September.?
Damiano Cunego is nursed by Lampre team-mates after crashing on stage 18 of the Tour. Photo by Graham Watson
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