By Monika Prell
Saunier Duval will ride two races in this year's Giro d'Italia; the team hopes that Gilberto Simoni will win the Giro for the third time after 2001 and 2003, while simultaneously it wants to refind Iban Mayo's best form.
Simoni will be the sole leader of the team. "He was already seven times on the podium and he has won two times," affirmed Joxean Fernández Matxin.
Simoni was third in last year's edition, behind Ivan Basso and José Enrique Gutierrez , two riders who won't participate this year. There will be strong rivals like Damiano Cunego, Paolo Savoldelli, Danilo di Luca and Yaroslav Popovych but Matxin insists that "Simoni is mentally tuned to a Giro win."
Iban Mayo "does not accept to be mediocre. He is motivated, and when he goes for something, you notice his genius."
He is in a good competition form. He began the season with Paris-Nice, where he showed a good level, but in the last stage he crashed and had pain in the ribs. One day before the Vuelta al País Vasco, on a Sunday, he went to a hospital to exclude a knee injury.
"Iban asks a lot of himself. He should not have participated in the Vuelta al País Vasco, but his absence could have cause comments, so that we decided to let him participate." Mayo retired in the third stage.
"I still believe in Iban. I trust in him for the Giro; to help Simoni and to achieve something.