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Preview of Vuelta Favourites: Introducing Gilberto Simoni
By Janna Trevisanut
Date: 9/2/2002
Preview of Vuelta Favourites: Introducing Gilberto Simoni

By Jakob Duma

When the 57th edition of this year's La Vuelta a España starts in Valencia with a 30km Team Time trail, 31 year old Gilberto Simoni from Palu Di Giovo (Italy), the same town as former cycling legend and Giro d'Italia winner in 1984 Francesco Moser, will be heavily motivated for a top result after being cleared of taking cocaine by the disciplinary committee of the Italian Cycling Federation. The 2002 season hasn’t been the most memorable year for Gilberto Simoni who started his season off by crashing in the Setmana Catalana where he had to abandon the next day with knee problems, an injury that disturbed much of his preparation for the upcoming Giro. He did not arrive in top from, but as he started getting into shape and just had won on the mountain top finish to Campitello Matese, the contra-analysis taken in April during the Giro del Trentino was revealed and the famous doping charges involving candy taken from Peru to Italy by a relative of his hit the little Italian who was immediately thrown out of the Giro.

Now Gilberto Simoni will focus all of his energy on the Vuelta a España where he already has celebrated some great victories in the past, included a stage win on top of the much feared L' Angliru climb in 2000, and last year where he was first on top of Alto de Abantos. This year Simoni's main focus will be on the overall classification. And if in he arrives in top form, then he is certainly one of the best climbers in the world and likely to do damage on climbs like L' Angliru, La Covatilla, and the steep ascent up to Sierra Nevada.

In His Favour: Experienced in 3 week stage races and certainly knows how to handle pressure, the mountainous race profile also looks ideal for Gilberto Simoni.

Against His Favour: His lack of race kilometres may be a problem for him, especially in the last week of the race where it can prove to be decisive. Another question is his time trialing, where he can’t afford to lose too many minutes on his closet rivals if his wants to be in contention for the overall classification.

1 Giro d'Italia Stage 11
3 Giro del Trentino
3 GP Llodio
3 Giro Friuli
10 Vuelta a Burgos
10 Trofeo Melinda

1 Vuelta Stage 20
1 Tour du Romandie Stage 4
1 Giro d'Italia Stage 20
1 Giro d'Italia GC
1 Japan Cup
2 Tour de Suisse GC
4 Giro del Trentino GC
5 Tour du Romandie GC

1 Giro d'Italia Stage 14
1 Vuelta Stage 16
1 Giro dell Emilia
2 Settimana Ciclista Lombarda GC
2 Italian Championship
3 Giro d'Italia GC
6 Tour du Romandie GC
9 GP Prato

1 Tour de Suisse Stage 4
2 Giro del Trentino GC
3 Giro d'Italia GC
3 Tour de Suisse GC
6 Giro di Toscana
6 Coppa Placci
24 Giro di Lombardia

Photo courtesy of Saeco Macchine per Caffe

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