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Try loosening the cable, shift the small lever into the lowest gear--click it several times until the click kind of changes sound and feel, then pull it tight in the derailleur cable mount, and retighten the bolt. Also double check the cable routing that there's not something binding it, and make sure the cable housing is seated in the shifter and the cable guides on the frame. You might want to hold the derailleur end of the cable while you shift and see if it seems to be pulling enough cable before tightening it in the derailleur. But I bet your tightening it in the derailleur cable mount without it being shifted into the lowest gear.

You could have a bum shifter, but if it's new, I doubt it. I'm a Campy convert but still have a bike with Shimano DA and it's pretty good stuff. If you still can't get it to work, before springing for a new shifter, you might need to throw in the towel and take it to your LBS for some help. You might pay a few $$$, but you'll still get to ride this weekend.
 
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