Two-time winner of the Giro d'Italia, Gilberto Simoni, is making his return from Argentina where he competed in the six-day Vuelta a San Luis. Il Trentino, 35 years-old, finished 51st overall but found the experience to be motivating for the for the 2007 season. His year will be based around the Giro, with a break to continue working on his newly discovered passion.
"Giovanni Lombardi invited me here to race," said the Saunier Duval-Prodir rider to La Gazzetta dello Sport of his participation in the South American event. "I always like to try something new. Here it is summer, I had the need to race in the heat and cover some kilometres.
"In reality I only returned to the saddle on January 2 and I arrived here with only 2000 kilometres in my legs. I knew very well that I would be very exhausted. ... Three years ago in Australia [Tour Down Under - ed.], a week of racing was like of month of training."
When Simoni speaks you don't hear a rider on the verge of retiring, you hear a rider who has a love for the sport. Part of which was rekindled when he took part in a series of mountain bike races this last winter.
"... Above all it reconciled me with cycling, because after the Giro I became nauseated and I had lost enthusiasm," continued Simoni, referring to the events of Aprica between him and winner Ivan Basso. "Also this year, you will again see me on the mountain bike. In the middle of March there is the first round of the marathon World Cup [17-18, the Canary Islands]. What can I do? I really would like to win the World Cup.
"The other rounds come after the Giro, which remains my main season's objective," stated Simoni, current Marathon Mountain Bike Italian Champion. "I am no longer young but I know I am still competitive, and it [the Giro] is a course that I like a lot."
The problems of cycling don't pass by Gibo and he is concerned when looking back at 2006, and the recent revelations by cycling' greats. "I believe in the last year are sport has touched bottom. What really bugged me was that in the 2006 Grand Tours there was not the enthusiasm of the public and that the fans don't have the certainty of the names who have won, or who arrived second and third...
"Now [Johann] Museeuw steps forward with his doping admission; how strange that he would have only doped in his last season."
Simoni will join his teammates for a training camp in Spain before continuing his road racing season in Europe, with a build up to the Giro, where he hopes to add the 2007 title to his ones of 2001 and 2003.