Simeoni hands back jersey after Giro snub
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Monday, May 04, 2009

Simeoni hands back jersey after Giro snub

by Steve Jones at 7:07 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia
 

Reigning Italian road race champion Filippo Simeoni is angry at the Giro d'Italia organization for leaving his team off of the start list of the centennial edition.

Simeoni points to two teams, ISD and Xacobeo Galicia, who have a lower ranking than his Ceramica Flaminia team and were both invited to his home tour.

While Simeoni may have a point, the fact of the matter is that his complaint seems to be about the "National Champion" being left out of the tour, and only speaking of his team when it is convenient.

Simeoni told reporters, “It is unacceptable that the Italian champion cannot compete in the biggest event in his country,”

The 37-year-old was a surprise winner for Italy's national title last year making it his first win in years. But so far this year the Italian champion has failed to feature his tricolore jersey in the results column seeming to slip back into his three year drought.

Simeoni blames American Lance Armstrong, who is making his first appearance in the race to heighten cancer awareness, for spoiling his ride in the grand tour.

“In Italy, certain newspapers see him (Armstrong) as a messiah,” Simeoni quipped.

Simeoni is most famous for his argument with Lance Armstrong that stemmed from both riders being clients of Italian doctor Michele Ferrari. Simeoni testified in court about his doping practices that began in 1993, and that Dr. Ferrari had prescribed him EPO and Human Growth Hormone in 1996 and 1997, with instructions on how to administer the products.

Where the problems between the two started is when Armstrong reportedly called Simeoni a "liar" in an interview with the French newspaper Le Monde in July 2003. The Italian began legal proceedings charging Armstrong with a defamation suit demanding €100,000.

Chapter two of the story began in the 2004 Tour de France. Simeoni got into a breakaway during the 18th stage. Armstrong, then leader of the race, bridged across to the breakaway and persisted to stay, removing their chance for success, unless Simeoni dropped back to the main peloton with him.

Subsequently, Italian authorities threatened to bring charges of witness intimidation against Armstrong for his actions in the Tour since at that time Simeoni was a witness for the prosecution in legal proceedings against Doctor Ferrari.

In protest Simeoni has handed back his national champion jersey.

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