Giro d'Italia winner Gilberto Simoni (Saunier Duval-Prodir) is currently enjoying measuring up to mountainbike specialists. At 35 years of age, the Italian decided to finish off the 2006 season on dirt trails, and promptly became Italian Marathon Champion on September 24. Last week, he participated in the French Roc d'Azur for the first time in his career, and finished fifth in Fréjus - but he was leading the race on the last climb, the col du Bougnon.
"It's a very hard race, very 'roc'," Simoni told velo101. "The specialists made me suffer one more time. Every time, I'm in a good position but then I crack in the finale. I finished with exploded legs. But a part from my hurting legs, I look back on a beautiful race - I'm very happy to have come here to test myself against the big mountainbike champions. I hope to come back next year, as the Roc d'Azur really is a cycling festival."