Damiano Cunego (Lampre) will not start Friday’s fifth stage at the Vuelta al País Vasco. The “Little Prince” was dropped midway up Thursday’s first-category summit finish, crossing the line 1:43 behind winner Samuel Sanchez.
Cunego said his priority now is to get ready for the Ardennes classics.
“I thought I could do better, but at the same time, I knew I wasn’t at the same level as the other riders in the race,” Cunego said in a team release. “I came here to race, which wasn’t part of my schedule, to work hard to recover the lost time I had from an illness.
“The objectives are the Ardennes classics and I need to compete against the best riders,” he said. “After (Thursday’s) stage, I was not up high on GC and there’s a time trial Saturday that does not favor me. So I thought the best thing I could do is go home.”
So far this season, the 2004 Giro champ won a stage and finished third overall at the Giro di Sardegna, eighth at Tirreno-Adriatico and third at Montepaschi Strade Bianchi.