Damiano Cunego

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Damiano Cunego
Cunego at the 2006 Giro d'Italia
Personal information
Full nameDamiano Cunego
NicknameIl Piccolo Principe (The Little Prince), L'Astore del Montello (The Goshawk of the Montello)
Born (1981-09-19) 19 September 1981 (age 42)
Cerro Veronese, Italy
Height1.69 m (5 ft 7 in)
Weight58 kg (128 lb; 9.1 st)
Team information
Current teamRetired
Rider type
  • Climber
  • Puncheur
Amateur teams
1997–1999Gaiga–Gore Tex
Professional teams
2002–2004Saeco–Longoni Sport
2015–2018Nippo–Vini Fantini[1]
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)
Medal record
Representing  Italy
Men's road bicycle racing
UCI Road World Championships
Silver medal – second place 2008 Varese Men's road race

Damiano Cunego (born 19 September 1981) is an Italian former professional road racing cyclist,[2] who rode professionally between 2002 and 2018 for the Saeco, Lampre–Merida and Nippo–Vini Fantini–Europa Ovini teams.

Cunego's biggest wins were the 2004 Giro d'Italia, the 2008 Amstel Gold Race, and the Giro di Lombardia in 2004, 2007 and 2008. He finished second in the UCI Road World Championships in 2008 and in the 2008 UCI ProTour. Primarily a climber, he improved his time-trialing and was characterized by great sprinting ability, unusual for a climber.


Saeco–Longoni Sport (2002–04)[edit]

Born in Cerro Veronese, Veneto, Cunego began cycling as a teenager after being a successful cross-country runner.[3] He was discovered by Giuseppe Martinelli who also worked closely with Marco Pantani.[4] Cunego turned professional in 2002 at the age of 20 with Saeco–Longoni Sport, winning the Giro d'Oro and the Giro Medio Brenta in his first season. In 2003 he won the seventh stage and the overall classification of the Tour of Qinghai Lake.[5]

He came to prominence in May 2004, winning the Giro d'Italia at the age of 22 with Saeco. 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 Cunego and angrily said "You're a bastard...you are really stupid."[6] 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.

Lampre (2005–14)[edit]

Cunego at the 2005 Giro d'Italia

In the 2005 Giro d'Italia, Simoni and Cunego were co-captains of Lampre–Caffita, but Cunego posed no threat to Simoni, as 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, and 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 Tour de France Cunego was the winner of the young rider classification; he finished 2nd on stage 15 to Alpe d'Huez, after losing to Fränk Schleck, who broke away in the final 2 kilometres (1.2 miles). 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.

Cunego at the 2010 Giro d'Italia

In 2008 he won the Klasika Primavera and the Amstel Gold Race,[7] with two powerful sprints against Valverde and Schleck, with victory in the latter propelling him to the top of the UCI Pro Tour rankings,[7] as he also went on to finish second in the UCI Road World Championships.[8] He was widely tipped to be victorious in the 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 at the Giro di Lombardia and then he ended the season with victory in the Japan Cup, confirming himself as one of the best Classics specialists 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, which made him one of the favourites for the road race at the UCI Road World Championships. He ultimately finished that race in eighth position.

Cunego at the 2011 Tour de France

In July 2013, he was one of 27 former riders and officials linked to the Lampre–Merida team indicted for doping in an Italian court, with a hearing set for 10 December 2013.[9] 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.[10]

Nippo–Vini Fantini (2015–18)[edit]

In October 2014, it was announced that Cunego was to leave Lampre–Merida to ride with Nippo–Vini Fantini in 2015.[11]


In June 2020, Cunego was hospitalised due to ventriculitis, an infection of the cerebral ventricle.[12]

Major results[edit]

1st Overall Giro della Lunigiana
1st Road race, UCI Junior Road World Championships
2nd Road race, National Junior Road Championships
3rd Giro del Belvedere
8th Gran Premio Palio del Recioto
2nd Gran Premio Palio del Recioto
1st Giro d'Oro
1st Giro del Medio Brenta
1st Overall Tour of Qinghai Lake
1st Stage 7
4th Overall Brixia Tour
4th Giro dell'Appennino
6th Japan Cup
1st Overall Giro d'Italia
1st Stages 2, 7, 16 & 18
1st Overall Giro del Trentino
1st Stages 1 & 2
1st Giro di Lombardia
1st Giro dell'Appennino
1st GP Industria & Artigianato di Larciano
1st Gran Premio Nobili Rubinetterie
1st Gran Premio Fred Mengoni
1st Memorial Marco Pantani
2nd Japan Cup
4th Giro del Veneto
6th Klasika Primavera
9th Road race, UCI Road World Championships
9th Giro di Toscana
1st Gran Premio Nobili Rubinetterie
1st Trofeo Melinda
1st Japan Cup
2nd Overall Tour de Romandie
1st Stage 3
2nd Klasika Primavera
3rd Overall Vuelta a Murcia
3rd Overall Settimana Internazionale di Coppi e Bartali
3rd Tre Valli Varesine
5th Overall Brixia Tour
7th Giro del Veneto
8th Gran Premio Città di Camaiore
9th Overall Tour of the Basque Country
9th Liège–Bastogne–Liège
9th Giro dell'Emilia
1st Overall Settimana Internazionale di Coppi e Bartali
1st Stage 3
1st Overall Giro del Trentino
1st Stage 2
1st Giro d'Oro
1st GP Industria & Artigianato di Larciano
1st Young rider classification, Tour de France
2nd Giro del Lazio
2nd Klasika Primavera
3rd Liège–Bastogne–Liège
4th Overall Giro d'Italia
8th Overall Vuelta a Murcia
8th Clásica de Almería
1st Overall Giro del Trentino
1st Stages 1 & 2
1st Giro di Lombardia
1st Gran Premio Bruno Beghelli
1st Stage 4 Deutschland Tour
4th Overall Tour of the Basque Country
5th Overall Giro d'Italia
5th Overall Tour de Suisse
5th Giro dell'Emilia
7th Overall Critérium International
7th Liège–Bastogne–Liège
9th Overall Vuelta a Murcia
1st Giro di Lombardia
1st Amstel Gold Race
1st Klasika Primavera
1st Japan Cup
2nd Road race, UCI Road World Championships
2nd Memorial Marco Pantani
3rd Overall Tour of the Basque Country
1st Stage 5
3rd La Flèche Wallonne
3rd Tre Valli Varesine
4th Overall Tour de Suisse
6th Giro del Lazio
10th Overall Critérium International
1st Overall Settimana Internazionale di Coppi e Bartali
1st Stages 2 & 3
Vuelta a España
1st Stages 8 & 14
2nd Road race, National Road Championships
3rd La Flèche Wallonne
5th Overall Tour of the Basque Country
5th Amstel Gold Race
6th Overall Tour de Suisse
6th Klasika Primavera
7th Liège–Bastogne–Liège
8th Road race, UCI Road World Championships
9th Gran Premio Bruno Beghelli
5th La Flèche Wallonne
5th Tre Valli Varesine
6th Amstel Gold Race
10th Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec
1st Giro dell'Appennino
1st Stage 2 Tour de Romandie
2nd Overall Tour de Suisse
3rd Overall Giro di Sardegna
1st Stage 2
3rd Montepaschi Strade Bianche
4th Japan Cup
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 Giro d'Italia
6th Overall Volta a Catalunya
1st Mountains classification, Tirreno–Adriatico
2nd Overall Settimana Internazionale di Coppi e Bartali
1st Points classification
1st Stage 3
3rd Japan Cup
4th Gran Premio di Lugano
4th Strade Bianche
3rd Giro dell'Appennino
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
6th Gran Premio di Lugano
Giro d'Italia
Held after Stages 4–6 & 10–19
7th Overall Tour of Qinghai Lake
1st Stage 6

Grand Tour general classification results timeline[edit]

Grand Tour 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Giro d'Italia 34 1 18 4 5 17 11 6 19 DNF 44
Tour de France 11 DNF 29 6 55
Vuelta a España 15 DNF DNF DNF 33 76

Classics results timeline[edit]

Monuments results timeline
Monument 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Milan–San Remo 62 34 43
Tour of Flanders Did not contest during career
Liège–Bastogne–Liège 124 9 3 7 30 7 20 16 35 30 13
Giro di Lombardia 1 29 1 1 14 27 13 DNF 23 33 93
Classics results timeline
Classic 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Amstel Gold Race 1 5 6 15 31 43 50 40 DNF DNF
La Flèche Wallonne 122 14 3 3 5 60 28 69
Giro dell'Emilia 28 9 5 13 14 15 18 DNF 4 53 33
Championships results timeline
Championship 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Rainbow jersey World Championships 9 50 2 8
Did not compete
DNF Did not finish


  1. ^ "Nippo-Vini Fantini hoping to secure Giro d'Italia wildcard". Cyclingnews.com. Immediate Media Company. 15 January 2018. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  2. ^ Benson, Daniel (17 June 2018). "Cunego closes out WorldTour career at Tour de Suisse". Cyclingnews.com. Immediate Media Company. Retrieved 22 January 2019. It's been a long career and my first year was in 2002.
  3. ^ "Damiano Cunego – Story". damianocunego.it. 17 June 2011. Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 17 June 2011.
  4. ^ Brown, Gregor. "Damiano Cunego Interview: Inside Casa Cunego". cyclesportmag.com. Retrieved 17 June 2011.
  5. ^ Farrand, Stephen (2009-02-23). "Damiano Cunego: Rider Profile". cyclingweekly.co.uk. Archived from the original on 2009-05-01. Retrieved 2009-01-27.
  6. ^ "Damiano Cunego: Rider Profile". cyclingnews.com. 2004-05-30. Retrieved 2009-01-27.
  7. ^ a b "Cunego sprints to Amstel Gold win". BBC News. 2008-04-21. Retrieved 27 April 2009.
  8. ^ "Road Cycling Worlds 2008". BBC News. 2008-09-28. Retrieved 27 April 2009.
  9. ^ "Former Giro winner Damiano Cunego and 26 others indicted for doping". The Guardian. London. 19 July 2013.
  10. ^ Farrand, Stephen (30 January 2015). "Report: Details of the Lampre Mantova investigation emerge". cyclingnews.com. Retrieved 26 July 2015.
  11. ^ Barry Ryan (2 October 2014). "Cunego signs for Nippo-Vini Fantini". Cyclingnews.com. Future plc. Retrieved 3 October 2014.
  12. ^ "Damiano Cunego hospitalised after contracting brain ventricle infection". cyclingnews.com. 16 June 2020. Retrieved 18 June 2020.

External links[edit]