By Gregor Brown in Venice
Gilberto Simoni expects an explosive start to the 2009 Giro d'Italia, presented Saturday night in Venice. The Italian, twice winner of the three-week stage race, believes the early mountain stages will require initiative.
"I believe that whoever wants the win can't wait to go out and get it. This year there was too much waiting about. You have to express yourself and grit your teeth," Simoni said to Cyclingnews.
Simoni won his first Giro d'Italia in 2001 and took his second two years later. In this year's edition he finished 10th while riding with his new team, Diquigiovanni. Next year might be his last time to compete in his home tour. He will face seven time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, both 37 years old.
"To battle Armstrong... I have to try to be myself as much as possible. ... We will see, I don't want to want to make any bets. I like the climbs that come right away. I know that I can't aim for the last week, I have to be ready right away."
After the Dolomites and Alps in the first week, the race makes its way though Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna. The final week in Le Marche, Abruzzo and Campania regions will be full of difficulties. The 22.5-kilometre climb of Block Haus, only used four other times in the Giro, will point for Simoni to pull ahead in the overall classification.
"I arrived there with [Amilcare] Tronca [in 1993 as an amateur]. We arrived together but he was able to take the win, I was in the maglia tricolore -- it was a bittersweet memory. It was a climb that would not end. The selection was not made from the climb itself but from a game of poker. It can make the difference [for 2009]."
The 2009 Giro d'Italia, May 9 to 31, starts in Venice and ends in Rome. It is celebrating 100 year's since its first running.