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86th Giro d'Italia - Stage 12: What Saeco said
By Fabio
Date: 5/23/2003
86th Giro d'Italia - Stage 12: What Saeco said


Gilberto Simoni wins in the pink jersey at the summit of the Zoncolan
And immediately promises more at Alpe di Pampeago

An extraordinary Gilberto Simoni won the twelfth stage of the Giro d’Italia from San Dona’ Di Piave to the summit of Monte Zoncolan over 185km, consolidating his lead in the race by gaining another 42 seconds on main rival Stefano Garzelli.

On the last terrible slopes of the Zoncolan considered by many to be one of the hardest climbs in the history of the Giro d’Italia, Simoni produced a strong attack with only Francesco Casagrande, Garzelli and Popovych able to stay with him. After catching early attacker Wladimir Belli, Simoni attacked again with 2.7km to go. This time only Casagrande was able to hold his wheel but only for a few hundred metres. Simoni crossed the line 34 seconds ahead of Garzelli and so thanks to the time bonus increased his lead to 44 seconds.

"I didn’t feel great today and yet I still managed to win," Simoni said just after the finish. I got my team mates to set the pace on the early part of the climb to keep the rhythm high and knew I’d be on my own in the final part of the stage. I thought some of the climbers who were behind overall would attack but nobody moved so I decided to wait until the final part of the climb, when it got really hard. I hoped to gain a bit more than I did but the final metres were tough for me as well."

As is his character, Simoni immediately promised to attack again. "I had hoped to do well on this stage but even more on Saturday’s stage over the Passo Rolle, Passo Valles, the San Pellegrino and up the finish to Alpe di Pampeago. One climb after another like that will give me more chances to attack!"

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