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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 June, 2005, 14:01 GMT 15:01 UK
Cunego forced to pull out of Tour
Damiano Cunego
Cunego had been tipped to challenge for overall victory
Italy's Damiano Cunego has pulled out of this year's Tour de France because of a virus.

Cunego, winner of last year's Giro d'Italia, had been hotly tipped as one of the leading rivals to Lance Armstrong in next month's race.

But the 23-year-old was diagnosed with the Epstein Barr mononucleosis virus on 8 June 8 and has not recovered in time for the race.

As a result, his Lampre-Caffita team is likely to be headed by Gilberto Simoni.

The symptoms of the virus include fever, sore throat and swollen lymph glands, and can last up to four months.

On rare occasions, it can also cause heart disorders and problems with the central nervous system.

The Tour de France begins on 2 July in the Vendee region of France and finishes in Paris on 24 July.



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