Double Giro winner Simoni holding out hopes for one more season
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Monday, November 16, 2009

Double Giro winner Simoni holding out hopes for one more season

by Conal Andrews at 7:32 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia
 

Now 38 years of age and without a contract, double Giro d’Italia winner Gilberto Simoni wants one more season to ride some smaller races and say goodbye to his fans.

"It will certainly be my last season, and I want to finish in a good way,” the Italian told Feltet.dk while at this weekend’s Cycling Fair in Roskilde, Denmark.

“I do not want to ride some of the big Grand Tours in 2010. I’m presuming I won’t do the Giro…I will probably just do a few races so that I can say goodbye.”

It’s late in the year, with most riders already secure in the knowledge of where they will be competing in a few months time. However as things stand right now, he’s uncertain about who he will ride for. “There is nothing in place yet. I'm talking with several teams at the moment but I have not yet said yes to something special,” he admitted.

Simoni was recently in talks with the Lampre team, with who he raced from 2000 to 2001, winning a Giro in its colours. The news was surprising given that Damiano Cunego currently leads the team, and the two had a very bitter falling out in 2004. Simoni and Cunego started that year’s Giro on the Saeco squad and when the latter took over the race lead, their relationship went rapidly downhill.

Cunego went on to win the race; Simoni continued with the team for one more season, but was then dropped in favour of the younger rider.

His agent Giuseppe Saronni recently confirmed those talks, but said that nothing came of them. Simoni’s current team, Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli has also been in discussion with him, but said that due to a lack of budget, it could not offer him anything more than a minimum wage contract.

Nevertheless, Simoni still entertains hopes that he could ride for one or other of those. “I would really like to finish my career at my current team, then I can give something back to a small Italian team which has supported me,” he explained. “Lampre is still in the picture in one way or another, but we must find out how the season will be planned if we are to reach agreement. I'd rather not run any more big stage races…I have it more so [in his mind] that in the last season that I want to say goodbye to the audience.”

It’s water under the bridge now, but in looking back to that infamous duel with Cunego, he believes that he could have finished better than his third place overall. “I could really have won the Giro d'Italia in 2004,” he asserts. “Where it started to go wrong was in the time trial, where I crashed and lost a bit of time. Then Cuengo was lucky that he got in a break where he gained some time. This created some conflicts in the team about who they should ride for. If I hadn't crashed, that probably would never have happened.”

Notwithstanding that, Simoni has a remarkable record in the race. He won in 2001 and 2003, finished second in 2005, was third in 1999, 2000, 2004 and 2006, and took a stage win plus fourth overall two years ago. “I could have won a couple more Giro d'Italia, and I would certainly have liked that,” he told Feltet.dk. However he’s not obsessed with such thoughts. “On the other hand, I have seven podium placements and I am happy with that."
 

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