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Giro: Gilberto Simoni interviewed before Stage 5
By Fabio
Date: 5/17/2002
Giro: Gilberto Simoni interviewed before Stage 5

After its "Euro days", featuring the celebration of the European unity and single currency, but also the fastest wheels of the peloton (Cipollini's and McEwen's in particular), the Giro hits back Italian soil. And the first mountains.

On Friday, the most difficult stage (so far) of the 85th Tour of Italy takes place in the Piedmontese province of Cuneo. And all the mountain goats are expected to show off their skills and state of form on the uphill finish to Limone Piemonte, but especially on the short (just some 3 km.) but awfully steep "Colletto del Moro!. That will not decide the Giro winner, but may definitely tell us something about who's NOT going to win the race.

And one of the riders to watch out for during the stage will definitely be Gilberto Simoni. During the very early part of the Giro (the leg finishing up to Ans/Liege in particular) the reigning champion clearly showed he's not in the same winning condition as last year. In the first four stages he lost 53" to Garzelli, more than what he expected to.

But as he told in an interview given to "Gazzetta dello Sport", things might change as soon as days go by. He's a kind of "diesel motor", used to get better as long as the third, decisive week of competition approaches, and the several victories he got in the past during GT final stages are just a further proof.

Also true that last year he displayed a great condition and an even bigger determination since the first stages, when he even attacked on wet descents (with moves even gave birth to some polemics between him and other riders such as Di Luca...). This year, on the opposite, he hasn't showed such a motivation yet, and pre-Giro statements such as "I don't like the course. I'm here just as I'm the reigning champion and Italian " didn't help him to make a positive impression.

Friday's demanding leg (click here for STAGE PROFILE) with the gruelling "Colletto del Moro" (a 3-km. climb, featuring an average gradient of 11%, but a max. gradient going up to 22%; some riders may even use a 39x25 gear (!!) on the narrow and steep road) will be the first important test for Gibo's growth chances. The real Giro starts there for him and other main contenders. But the man downplayed the significance of this leg, and of its most feared ascent in particular "The Colletto is very difficult, but won't be that decisive for the stage outcome, it might make some selction but is far from the finish, so many dropped riders and teams could regain the leading group in the following descent, where the road is large. Of course I'll have to be extremely careful and not lose any time to the orthers. That's important for my morale too".

The Saeco-Longoni Sport captain admitted he has to improve if he wants to win the Giro, but is quite confident in his skills to get better as much as the race goes on "This has always been my best feature. And I feel my condition is actually improving. My opinion is that I won''t need to wait from the final week's Dolomites. Things might change right from next week, with the stage finishing up to Campitello Matese. As for the most dangerous rivals, I think of two names in particular: Garzelli and Casagrande".

Click here to go to the DAILY PELOTON'S GIRO D'ITALIA MAIN PAGE) to place where you'll find links to all our Giro-related stories (Previews, Interviews, Result and Reports, Team and Stage profiles and much more ...)

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