It has been interesting watching Damiano Cunego since he won the Giro a few years back. Back then, he showed us pure climbing ability. In fact, his style of climbing by standing while still in the drops was reminiscent of another Italian climber, Marco Pantani.
After winning the 2004 Giro, many picked Cunego as the next great stage racer. They even put him on the top step of a future Tour de France. I never figured that was even a possibility. Given the topography of the Tour, climbers are at a distinct disadvantage. Before I go and pat myself on the back, I figured Damiano would be one of the top mountain goats of the sport. If a Giro played into his hands again with multiple mountain top finishes and short time trials, he might nab another pink jersey.
After a few lost seasons, Damiano is coming back to the top of his sport. But I am seeing a different Damiano Cunego. I watched him get dropped on L’Alpe d’Huez and fail to make the final accelerations at the Giro. In contrast, he has begun to perform better in the tough classics races.
Take today’s stage of the D-Tour. The profile of the 183.8km stage looks like a typical classics course. Never flat with two climbs coming in at a category 3 and 2 respectively. Look who he beat at the line, another classics specialist in Davide Rebellin.
It seems that Damino is maturing into a fine Classics rider. I’ll look for him in Belgium in March and April as opposed to Italy in May.