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Pearl Izumi

85th Giro d'Italia (GT)

Italy, May 11-June 2, 2002

News for May 9, 2002

Latest newsflashes

May 25 - Mathew Hayman interview: Making hay while the sun shines
May 25 - Stage 12 wrap up, Post stage comments, Lunghi wins 12th stage, Simoni out, Saeco cancels journos' football game, Perfetto denies doping
May 24 - Stage 11 wrap up, Post stage comments, Simoni not in the clear yet, Cadel Evans re-launches website, Garzelli case to be heard on June 3, Frigo taken for a ride, Saeco pulls Simoni before B sample announced, Mercatone flicks Sgambelluri
May 23 - Stage 10 wrap up, Post stage comments, Simoni allowed to continue, regardless of B test, Mapei to continue in the Giro
May 22 - Stage 9 wrap up, Garzelli's B sample positive, Post stage comments, Gutted Garzelli to take a break from cycling, Cipollini comments, Castellano comments, Why probenecid?, Policeman admits to supplying Varriale and co. with doping products, Simoni non-negative for cocaine
May 21 - Stage 8 wrap up, Post stage comments, Santi Perez hospitalised with cranial trauma, Garzelli's counter-analysis due on Tuesday, Varriale and the wicked fridge

Complete story index

Storms don't bother mountain men
Photo: © Sirotti
Click for larger image

Gilberto Simoni: Mountain Man

By Anthony Tan

Right now there's a mountain of pressure on the shoulders of Italian superstar Gilberto Simoni.

However Simoni's a mountain man, born in the region of Trento - immersed in the heart of the Dolomiti, in a town called Palu' di Giovo. Mountain men are tough - and Simoni is no different.

"Gibo", as he is affectionately known, has worked his way up from being a domestique eight years ago for Jolly-Cage to being the leader for Ballan-Alessio, Lampre-Daikin and now Saeco-Longoni Sport; and after two consecutive podium placings in 1999 and 2000 Giro d'Italia, Simoni stood on the highest step of the podium at the finish in Milan last year.

When Cyclingnews managed to land a last-minute interview with Gibo, a number of important events had transpired since our initial visit to his home in January of this year; the most important event being stage two of the Setmana Catalana, a 107 kilometre stage from Lloret del Mar to Empuriabrava on March 26.

The Spanish stage race was supposed to be part of Simoni's build-up to the Giro, a litmus test of his current form. However when the peloton's hammering along at 60 clicks an hour and you're confronted by a pothole, chances are you're likely to come off second best - which is exactly what happened. Further tests revealed a micro fracture of the knee, and Simoni was forced to rest for almost three weeks.

New team, new friends
Photo: © Marco Massetti
Click for larger image

Not suprising then that Simoni hasn't reached top form just yet, finishing in 28th place at the GP Industria & Artigianato-Larciano last Saturday in Italy. Ominously, Gibo's main rival Stefano Garzelli did hit top form - Garzelli won the race, also beating fellow Italians Giuliano Figueras and Francesco Casagrande (see pre-Giro interview with Garzelli).

However Simoni rode much better the following day in the Giro di Toscana, finishing in the front group of 17, only eleven seconds behind winner Aleksandr Shefer from Kazakhstan. Most Grand Tour winners don't plan to reach their peak form until the second week of a three-week race, so it's more than likely Gilberto Simoni is playing his cards close to his chest until the road veers upwards in the third week of May.

The interview that ensues reveals a man with a particularly strong resolve - in fact, according to Simoni, the only resolve: "l'obbiettivo di una stagione, anche se non l'unico" - it is my objective of the season, the only objective. Simoni is not bothered by who he rooms with on tour - the only things that matter to Gibo are his own pillow, a nice juicy steak, roast potatoes and a generous serve of carrot cake.

And if all goes according to plan, Gibo plans to "filo da torcere a Lance Armstrong" at the Tour de France - the literal translation meaning to make life as hard for Lance as twisting wire with your bare hands.

CN: How do you feel your season has gone so far this year?

GS: I had intentions of doing much, much better. But problems with my health and most importantly my fall in Spain, have complicated much of my approach to the Giro.

CN: What are your team's goals for the Giro d'Italia?

GS: We want to win the overall classification - that is obvious; however, we are conscious of the difficulties we will encounter and the strength of our opposition. Most importantly, we will try to make the race how we want it to go, rather than be subjected to the plans of our opposition.

CN: How important is the Giro to you?

GS: For me, for all of us (at Saeco), it has the highest importance. It is the objective of the season, the only objective.

CN: What are your personal goals for the Giro - are there any stages in particular you would like to win?

GS: To be able to be in the best shape and in the best health possible. The rest is mental, and will come from within.

Pantani's old DS Martinelli now at the helm
Photo: © Sirotti
Click for larger image

CN: Who will be your directeur-sportif for the Giro?

GS: Beppe Martinelli and Flavio Miozzo will be our DS's, obviously with the supervision of our team manager Claudio Corti.

CN: Do you know who your room-mate will be for the Giro - is it the same for all races?

GS: I don't know yet and it is not important. We do not follow fixed outlines in this sense; we do try to stay together with the same person as much as possible, although who we stay with often changes.

CN: What do you do to relax during a race as big as the Giro d'Italia?

GS: Most importantly I rest; I also listen to music and read. I only watch television if there is a program that I find particularly interesting. (Last year's coverage of the Giro, Gibo? - Ed.)

CN: What are your favourite foods to eat during the Giro?

GS: Nothing that is particularly imaginative: spaghetti or rice (not risotto), a beautiful steak, roast potatoes, and to finish, a scrumptious piece of carrot cake.

CN: Are you superstitious? - Do you have or wear a good-luck charm to bring you success?

GS: No, I am not overtly superstitious - but I always bring my own pillow to ensure I sleep well and maybe also a little for superstitous reasons - who knows...

Santa Barbara, Italy (not CA, USA)
Photo: © Sirotti
Click for larger image

CN: Will you be riding the Tour de France or the Vuelta after the Giro?

GS: Just a few days ago we had our official confirmation of our participation in this year's Tour de France. We are honoured to be given the opportunity, and personally, I hope to be able to "filo da torcere" (make life as hard as twisting wire with your bare hands) on Lance Armstrong.

CN: What are your objectives for the rest of the 2002 season?

GS: It is useless to chase dreams. Now I must try to win the Giro; only after the finish of this race will I then be able to assess what else is within my capabilities.

To read Tim Maloney's up close and personal interview, "Preparing for the challenge" with Gilberto Simoni at the start of the 2002 season click here.

Thanks to Carlo Petrozzi (Vitesse) for organising the interview.

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