From Mottarone to Mottarone, or .. how to make a redemption complete. On Sunday Gilberto Simoni was back to the Piedmontese ascent that saw the man (then riding with Lampre) seal his 2001 Giro overall victory with a great solo win. But that’s one of the few similarities. Indeed, compared to that day, many things have changed. The 2001 stage was coming at the end of a Giro tarnished by Carabinieri raids, the doping-related fuss and and a certain disaffection showed by fans, all of these factors overshadowing Simoni’s accomplishment. And the “mood” of the time was perfectly summarized by the rainy, horrible weather conditions that featured that stage and helped keeping more than one fan away from the race. Not a day for celebrating that much.
Two years later, the scene is far different. True that the doping problem is far from over, as the recent “Operazione Bike” (22 people, mostly amateur riders, but also two team managers implicated) proved, but it didn’t affect either Gibo or any other Giro participant. The race has not been spoiled by doping scandals this time, and the way Simoni dominated it, his duel with Garzelli included, helped cycling to take its revenge over doping and regain the applause from fans.
And the new “mood” was "summarized" again by the weather conditions: a good weather that in a hot, late Spring day played his part in taking people to the roads of the 2nd “Gran Premio SBS - Living Techonology", an uphill ITT covering 14.5 kms. between Misiano (Novara province) and the Mottarone top, with a difference in altitude of about 950m.. One thing that didn’t change from 2001 was the final outcome instead: Gibo benefitted from his sensational condition and won again, for the seventh time in the 2003 season.
Simoni, who finished fourth a few days before in a similar challenge, the San Contardo uphill Time Trial at the Broni Criterium (see link at the bottom of the page) clocked a winning time of 38 minutes and one second, averaging a speed of 22.885 km/h. He beat Alessio’s Franco Pellizotti (himself putting in a good show at Broni, where he lost to the same Gibo in the Road Race) by 10”, while Massimo Codol (Mercatone Uno-Scanavino) took third.
Cheered by a huge crowd throughout the route, Simoni dominated both the first, flattish half and the second, hilly part of the contest finishing up to the “Mountain of the two Lakes” (as it’s located between the Maggiore and Orta Lakes). Saeco’s triumph was completed by Marius Sabaliauskas, one of Gibo’s best teammates, snatching eighth place. Good performances also for the Alessio (two men in the Top 6) and Amore&Vita-Beretta teams, the latter getting three guys in the final Top 10, and Zimbabwean Timothy Jones as exeellent fourth place finisher.
By dominating a field of 25, Simoni continued the tradition of the Giro winner being the main protagonist over the Mottarone too. Indeed it was Paolo Savoldelli, overall champion of the 2002 “Corsa Rosa”, that took last year’s (first) edition of the Mottarone race. Fans in Europe with a Digital Satellite receiver will have the chance to watch highlights of the race on RAISPORT SATELLITE the next Thursday, during the “Tuttociclismo” program.
RESULTS – TOP 10 PLACES:
1. Gilberto Simoni (Ita – Team Saeco) - 38'01"
2. Franco Pellizotti (Ita - Alessio) - 38'11”
3. Massimo Codol (Ita - Mercatone Uno-Scanavino) - 38'19"
4. Timothy Jones (Zim - Amore&Vita-Beretta) - 38'23"
5. Paolo Lanfranchi (Ita - Ceramiche Panaria-Fiordo) - 38'46"
6. Andrea Noe' (Ita - Alessio) - 38'58"
7. Przemyslaw Niemec (Pol - Amore&Vita-Beretta) - 39'39"
8. Marius Sabaliauskas (Lit – Team Saeco) - 40'59"
9. Oscar Pozzi (Ita - Tenax) - 41'08"
10. Valery Kobzarenko (Rus - Amore&Vita-Beretta) - 41'19"