In the ongoing legal battle between Italian Naturino rider Filippo Simeoni and six-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong over stage 18 of last year's Tour de France, Armstrong's former advisor Michele Ferrari and other Italian riders now involved in the case, Simeoni maintains being the underdog against the powerful American. Just recently, UCI president Hein Verbruggen said that Lance Armstrong is not riding this year's Giro d'Italia because of the dispute between him and Simeoni.
"I am deeply disappointed at what the UCI president said," Simeoni stated. "As if it was my fault that Armstrong wasn't riding the Giro - Armstrong just isn't interested in the Giro, and neither is his sponsor, that's all." Lance Armstrong, meanwhile confirmed this in an exclusive interview given to Cyclingnews' European editor Tim Maloney. "I'm not avoiding Italy just because of that," the American Tour winner said. "If I really wanted to compete in Tirreno, or the Giro or Milano-Sanremo, I certainly would go...Racing in Italy doesn't fit in with my program...Simple question: when's the last time I raced in Italy?"
Simeoni, meanwhile, has hard feelings against the governing body of cycling. "I know why it's like this - it's easier to support Armstrong than Simeoni, because I'm just a small rider," he said, adding, "But I have nothing to be ashamed of. I have right on my side, and I fear nothing and nobody. Not even Armstrong with all his power and money. I believe in justice. But if the law doesn't give it to me, then there is a God to protect me."