By Gregor Brown
Gilberto Simoni made his 2007 European debut in GP Etruschi, an Italian race that is a stepping stone towards his season goal, Italy's big one, the Giro d'Italia. The two-time Giro winner hopes to make three this year and is preparing by competing in races that he enjoys.
"Now Donoratico, then [Trofeo] Laigueglia," said Simoni to Tuttosport before Saturday's race. "There is not hurry, I race where I like, it is my life, my passion. And before [Milano-] Sanremo I will also race in a mountain bike World Cup, in the Canary Islands, the first round of the Marathon competition; a new world that fascinates me."
Rumour is going around Italy that Simoni will want to close out his career with an Olympic gold in Beijing. Is this the case? "No, if I have to be sincere," the Saunier Duval-Prodir rider said. "The first thing I am thinking about is to win the next Giro d'Italia. It is also the desire of my team, which I trust in. It is a Giro that I like a lot. Last year was very difficult but, in many ways, this year is better. There are many mountain top finishes that really excite me; Le Tre Cime di Lavaredo. And Lo Zoncolan, will make for grand finale to the Giro.
Simoni was overpowered by a super Ivan Basso in the 2006 'Corsa Rosa' and for 2007 his rival looks even stronger, with the backing of Lance Armstrong's former henchmen. "I don't think much of Basso. He does not interest me. If he goes strong or slow, it really does not interest me. No matter what, I look after myself, I try to be my best, to be at the start in Sardegna at 110 percent efficiency. Then, there are the others, and not only Basso, that will also be in top form."