Tour Guide Flashback – Lampre Pages (2011)

RIDE Media has produced the official Tour de France Guide (Australian edition) since 2003. The 2012 edition will be on sale mid-June. As part of the team pages we are also offering ‘Flashbacks’ to the 2011 Guide to help provide a look at the progress/changes to the teams between the 98th and 99th Tours de France.

In this flashback we take a look at the commentary on the Lampre team from the 2011 Tour preview.

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Flashback: 2011 – Lampre Team Pages

Could Cunego one day live up to his potential?

Feels a little like déjà vu, really. A roster full of options but at the Tour de France it all fades a little. Well, such an appraisal would be appropriate for every year since around 2004 had it not been for Alessandro Petacchi’s pair of stage wins last year – and his victory in the points classification. He turned things around, gave Lampre some podium time, but it’s hard to say if he’ll be back in France this July. There are a few matters from the past which are lingering and the veteran sprinter – although he doesn’t appear to be slowing down at all – might opt to take a break after another impressive showing at the Giro.

And so we say: if he’s there, Petacchi could impress. But if he’s not, it’s hard to say what sort of impact Lampre will have.

It would be lovely to say something encouraging about the Little Prince of 2004, but Damiano Cunego hasn’t done much to demonstrate that he’s even able to target a top 20 on GC. It’s a shame that he never achieved more than his white jersey win in his Tour debut in 2006 but that’s the way the mop flops.

The Giro champion from many moons ago didn’t go to that race in 2011. Instead, Lampre relied on the services of the old mongrel Michele Scarponi to try and net a podium place. The 31-year-old was confident at the start – hell, he even raced after Alberto Contador when the Spaniard danced up the road on Mount Etna… but then he faded, demoralised and defeated. Oddly, it was his collapse that made him seem real.

Scarponi seemed indestructible in March. He could climb icy mountains or destroy the morale of others on the flat. His jump across a one-minute gap to the lead group in Milan-San Remo was out of this world: a super-human effort that earned him a chorus of cheers from the tifosi. It’s hard, however, to imagine him going from the Giro to the Tour. Perhaps he will, and if he does maybe he will be the surprise of July.

This leaves us talking about consolation options once again. Spilak is no mug, a loyal domestique who can be relied on but he’s not going to win the Tour. Marzano won the Baby Giro in 2004 and has a few seasons of experience but he’s hardly done enough to even warrant leadership at Lampre. Righi doesn’t mind putting himself in an escape but his approach has never earned him a pro win. Spezialetti has a cool name but… etc.

And so we find ourselves talking about Cunego again. Few would argue that there’s anything not to like about the guy. He is genuine, earnest, and has a strong following. There’s history to make us believe that one day a big win could happen once more but little evidence to suggest that it’ll be when everyone else in the upper echelon of world cycling is there.

This July, anything of note that Lampre-ISD achieves should be seen as a bonus. The two stage wins and the green jersey from last year were perceived that way by many – particularly Petacchi’s main rival – so it’s not to say something is not going to happen… but if it does it’ll be a surprise.

by Rob Arnold

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Author: design@ride

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