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Interbike: Simoni and Cunego
By Janna Trevisanut
Date: 10/9/2004
Interbike: Simoni and Cunego

Saddlemakers fi’z:ik hosted Bob Roll, Gilberto Simoni and Damiano Cunego for a question and answer session at their Interbike booth on Thursday afternoon. See our earlier story, in which Bob Roll entertains the waiting audience with a few stories.

From left: Damiano Cunego, Gilberto Simoni, Giuseppe Martinelli standing behind, and Bob Roll. Click for larger image. Photo by Daily Peloton.

After telling a few stories and being his seriously humorous self, Bob Roll introduced Gilberto Simoni and Damiano Cunego to huge cheers from the crowd. Simoni is twice winner of the Giro d’Italia; Cunego is the 1999 Junior World champion and current champion of the Giro d’Italia.

Roll asked questions of the two in Italian, with a translator standing by to give Simoni’s and Cunego’s answers.

Click for larger image. Photo by Daily Peloton.

Bob: “After winning the Giro del Veneto and being second in the big pre-Mondiali race, the Giro del Lazio, Gibo, you were left off the Italian national team and this has been a bone of contention.”

Gibo’s answer: “Mal, Mal.” Bob says, “I don’t think we need to translate that – bad. Pissed off.” Big laughs from Simoni and the crowd.

“Damiano was the World junior champion in his hometown in Verona, and got to ride there again just a few days ago, and was ninth in the World Championships - big round of applause for him!” (Applause.)

Damiano: “Riding in my hometown gave me some extra power because all of the fans were watching and supporting me, so it was really a great feeling.”

“Gilberto, you have won stages in all the Grand Tours, but one of the most difficult in all of cycling is the Angliru climb in Spain, where you won a stage a couple of years ago.”

Gibo: “It’s really a tough climb, it’s almost a climb for mountain biking, and even if I were riding on my own, it’s really hard to get to the top – to win a stage – it’s really a hard stage.”

Bob asked about Damiano’s win in the Giro and his wins leading up to that, though he did not translate his exact question for us.

Damiano: “I was feeling good, so I won five races in a row – they were one after the other, it was sort of fate, but of course I wasn’t expecting to perform as well at the Giro.” (The five races: Giro del Trentino overall plus stage 1 and 2 and the G.P. Industria e Artigianato Larciano in mid and late April, and Giro dell'Appennino on 1 May. He won four stages and the overall at the Giro d’Italia.)

Bob: “Last year, Gilberto won three mountaintop stages, some of the most incredibly difficult climbs in the history of the Giro d’Italia.”

Gibo: “It was a great season, it was a nice way to win, and for sure can’t be unlucky. It was a great season. I’m happy with last season, and I’m happy with this season too – it’s been a good season this year too.”

Bob: “I interviewed Gibo after a huge win, in Bormio – the race had passed over the Passo Gavia – in that year, Gilberto was one of the contenders for the overall and at the top of each climb he always had a big lead on Casagrande and Garzelli, but they had time to catch up on the descents. Gibo told me at the time, if they finished at the top of the mountain, he would win the Giro, and then the next season it happened.”

Click for larger image. Photo by Daily Peloton.

Gibo said that particular stage was hard, it was very long – at first he said he didn’t remember the question and Bob interrupts: “He didn’t remember my question because it [the stage] was 240 kilometers long.” Laughter all around.

The translator continues with Gibo’s answer: “It was a long stage, and very hard – you don’t really need to finish a stage on the top of a mountain, especially when you have such a long stage, you just have to be stronger, and that’s what I was feeling that day.”

Photo by Daily Peloton.

“Damiano, four stages and the general classification in the Giro d’Italia – you won the stage up to the top of Montevergine [Stage 7], but you [the Saeco team] were dressed like prisoners, and had jerseys that said ‘Legalize my Cannondale.’ What was the significance of that?”

Damiano: “That was a nice stage, a fun stage too, it was nice to win, especially with these special jerseys. We were asked by Cannondale to wear these special prisoner jerseys to protest against the UCI not allowing bikes that are too light. So it was a fun stage, and nice to win.”

Photo courtesy Cannondale.

Bob: “I asked Damiano if he is planning on racing the Tour, and when that would happen.”

Damiano: “For sure in the future I will take part in the Tour, now it will be just for experience; it is a very hard tour, so maybe next year, maybe not. To me, it’s important to learn and gain experience, but for sure in the future the Tour will be in my path, and I hope to perform well.”

Click for larger image. Photo by Daily Peloton.

Bob: “We’re going to get Damiano’s preferred saddle here in a moment..." (with great surprise) “fi’z:ik!!”

Bob: “Because I’ve read that Saeco and Lampre might join forces next year, I asked what Gibo’s thoughts are on that.”

Gibo: “It’s done – Saeco and Lampre will merge, so it will be a very strong team next year, not that this year they were not, but they will be stronger, so I want to start training very early for next season, first with the tour in Australia and then we will see.”

Bob (with chuckles from the two riders): “And now, the preferred saddle, ladies and gentlemen, of Gilberto Simoni... the Arione. Gilberto had a hand in designing that, it’s a little bit longer, you can get better positions.”

Bob: “Damiano still has to do a few races – he has to do the Piemonte, the Giro di Lombardia, then go to Japan, so if you think these guys make too much money, you have another thing coming – they earn every single lira, even though there’s no more lira, but good luck to Damiano, and good luck to Gilberto!” (Big applause.)

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