Saeco-Longoni Sport for the Giro
The team of the defending champion, Saeco-Longoni Sport will have last year's Maglia Rosa Gilberto Simoni as its undisputed leader, as he rides in his quest for a second pink jersey. Beating his rivals to Milan in last year's edition in commanding fashion with a lead of over 7 minutes, Simoni also placed third in the two previous editions of the Giro leading up to his win. He has said that for him and his team, the Giro is "the only objective of the season."
Gibo's season has not been without its low points this year: a crash in stage two of this year's Setmana Catalana left him with a micro fracture in the knee, which forced him into a three week rest. Managing only a 28th place finish in last Saturday's GP Industria & Artigianato-Larciano, it seemed that his form was still a ways off, but he put in a stronger ride on Sunday at the Giro de Tosca, finishing with the leaders, and only 11 seconds off the winning time.
Saeco's supporting cast includes former Mercatone Uno man, Spaniard Igor Astarloa, winner of the 2001 G.P. Primavera, veteran Italian rider Biagio Conte, 4th place finisher in last year's Milan San Remo, fellow Italians and good support men Fabio Sacchi, Alessio Galletti, Oscar Mason, Alessandro Spezialetti, two time Moldavian time trial champion Igor Pugaci, and Lithuanian Marius Sabaliauskas in his second year as a pro with Saeco.
Things have not gone as smoothly as they might for Simoni this year, but his confidence seems as high as ever, and there is every reason to suppose that the quest for his second straight Maglia Rosa will be hard fought.
Daily Peloton "In the Pink" rating: 9.7