Decision pending on team's ProTour licence, due to arrive today
Italian Gilberto Simoni will end his career at the Giro d'Italia this May with team Lampre-Farnese Vini. The Italian team is waiting on its ProTour licence to confirm the contract, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.
"Gilberto may or may not be nice, but in terms of grit and character there is no one like him," said team manager Giuseppe Saronni. "The years pass, but we are certain, given his enthusiasm, that he can still have an honourable Giro.
Saronni said that they are waiting on the International Cycling Union (UCI) to confirm the team's ProTour licence. The UCI has made the decision to register the team in the ProTour division and the announcement is expected today.
The decision would allow Simoni to end 17 years of professional racing May 30 in Verona's Roman Arena, the finish line of the Giro d'Italia's final stage. It would be his 15th participation in the Giro d'Italia, including wins in the 2001 and 2003 editions.
"It's a sentimental decision to return to this team, but I still lack the signature," said Simoni.
Simoni won his first Giro d'Italia with Lampre, but his relationship with Saronni broke down at the end of 2001.
Simoni later squabbled with 2004 teammate Damiano Cunego, who won four stages and the eventual overall at the Giro at the age of 22. Simoni shouted, "you're a bastard" at Cunego as he celebrated his fourth stage win at Bormio.
Simoni, 38, re-established his friendship with Cunego, 28, last winter at a benefit dinner in Milan. He also publicly announced his desire to ride to Giro d'Italia director Angelo Zomegnan. The two met yesterday to discuss the riders' strike in last year's Milan circuit stage.
Simoni said that it is too early to discuss training plans or his first race.
Last March, he won stage three and held the lead of the Vuelta Mexico. He helped team Diquigiovanni win three stages at the Giro, but he finished 46 minutes behind winner Denis Menchov.
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