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Italy’s Cunego Takes Giro Lead

May 15, 2004

MONTEVERGINE DI MERCOGLIANO, Italy (AP) _ Italy’s Damiano Cunego took the overall lead in the Giro d’Italia on Saturday, capturing the seventh stage and claiming the pink jersey from countryman and teammate Gilberto Simoni.

Cunego edged Australia’s Bradley McGee and Italy’s Franco Pellizotti in the uphill stage. Simoni, the defending champion, finished sixth, three seconds behind Cunego.

Cunego, winner of the second stage, covered the 133 miles from Frosinone to Montevergine di Mercogliano in 5 hours, 26 minutes, 25 seconds.

``I must thank Gilberto, who helped me a lot today,″ said Cunego, a former world junior champion who rides for Saeco. ``I’ll reciprocate the favor in the final week of the race.″

McGee won the time prologue in Genoa last Saturday and wore the leader’s pink jersey for two stages.

Italians Giuliano Figueras and Stefano Garzelli were fourth and fifth.

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