Gilberto Simoni , determined and confident .
Giro d'Italia winner Gilberto Simoni feels he has completely recovered from the rigors of last months race, and will enter this Tour de France determined to give Lance Armstrong a run for his money.
Simoni and Frigo duel in the mountains The man from Trento Italy enters the Tour full of confidence and rested legs .
"I've completely recovered from the efforts of the Giro d'Italia and feel good and ready to give it everything at the Tour de France,I'm determined to do well and honestly believe I can get a result. I can already feel the adrenaline building up inside ready for the Tour and that means I'm motivated and eager to race.
"I don't really know how competitive I can be because I haven't raced since the Giro d'Italia. However I've recovered both mentally and physically thanks to special relaxation techniques, lots of massage and some long training rides in the Dolomite mountains near my home. I feel good."
Talking to Reuters Simoni said he was concentrating on his own race rather than worrying about Armstrong
"I'm not thinking or worrying about how good Armstrong is and what he can do in the time trial and mountains. My Tour will be a battle against myself and against my own limits as a rider. I’ll see what happens in the Alps and then I'll start thinking about my rivals," Simoni said.
"It's very difficult to try and win two major races in the same season - even Armstrong has never tried it - but I'm going to give it a go. It'll be difficult but it's not impossible. I'm at the peak of my career and I've never been afraid of a challenge."
Some commentators see this as a race between Simoni in the mountains and Lance Armstrong in the Time trials .Simoni is considered weak in the individual time trials and will have to make up any lost time in mountains . Certainly this was the pattern of events when the two “Giants of the Road” last clashed in the Tour de Suisse 2001 .
Although Simoni got the better of Armstrong on the notorious cobbled mountain climb of the Gotthard Pass , Armstrong proved dominant in the time trials to take the race with an eventual 1’.02 advantage over the Italian .
Simoni on the Gotthard Pass
Armstrong flanked by Simoni and Belli
But unlike many of Armstrongs other rivals , Simoni seems determined to challenge Armstrong ; and goes into the race ready for the challenge.
"Armstrong is such a big favourite that the Tour could become very boring. We have to try and make something happen. If you want to win the Tour you have to attack Armstrong and perhaps isolate him from his team mates. I'm going to try to do that whenever I can,"
Simoni is also more than happy with his team which includes German climber Jorg Ludewig in the team to help Simoni, sprinter Ivan Quaranta being left at home .
"I think we've got an excellent team and I think we could even win the team time trial stage," Simoni said. "Riders like (Danilo) Di Luca, (Stefano) Zanini, (Fabio) Sacchi, (Salvatore) Commesso are all strong and can set a fast pace on the flat, while (Gerrit) Glomser and (Alessandro) Bertagnolli are good in the mountains.The centennial edition of the Tour de France is something special. I think there will be a few surprises to make it a great race."