Damiano Cunego (Lampre) made up for second place in the recent world championships with an impressive lone win at the Tour of Lombardy.
Cunego has had a difficult 2008 but targeted Lombardy and looked unbeatable as soon as he went on the attack on the Civiglio climb, 20km from the finish in Como.
The descent is tight and twisting and Cunego used his experience from winning in 2004 and 2007, and the knowledge gained in a mid-week reconnaissance ride to drop the other riders who went clear with on the climb.
Descent demon and Olympic champion Samuel Sanchez came across to the break on the crazy descent but Cunego was already away and continued to open a gap on the last climb of the 242km overlooking Como.
He dived down the descent to won alone on the shore of the Lake Como, holding up three fingers as he crossed the line.
Janez Brajkovic (Astana) beat Rigoberto Uran (Caisse d?Epargne) in the sprint for second, 24 behind and thought he had won but he quickly realized he had only made a fool of himself. Former Italian national champion Giovanni Visconti (Quick Step) brought home what was left of the 167-rider peloton, 33 seconds behind Cunego.
Cunego won the Tour of Lombardy in 2004 and last year but this third win was clearly much more important to the ?Little Prince? of the peloton.
?I?m really happy to have won for a third time. After the world championships I kept training hard and I really wanted to win Lombardia again. I gave it everything in the race, my team mates were great and so everything went perfectly,? Cunego said.
?I love the Civiglio climb and attacked flat out on the descent as if I was in a car rally. I knew I could get a gap and I?d carefully studied the corners during a training ride last week. I gave it everything in the final 15km of the race. Nobody managed to come across to me on the last climb and so I just kept going.?
?Winning alone is a fantastic feeling. It?s great to finish the season like that.?
Philippe Gilbert wins Paris-Tours
2007: Cunego wins Lombardy, Evans seals ProTour success
2006: Bettini remembers brother with Lombardy win
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