Giro d'Italia feature, May 25, 2005
Riders from the Lampre-Caffita team spent the second rest day of the Giro d'Italia riding on the track. But we're not talking wooden boards and bankings here. Rather, in order to get away from the traffic, Gilberto Simoni and his team-mates had a couple of hours of light training on the motor racing track at Monza.
"It was important today to pedal without the stress of the traffic. This moment in Monza have given us good moment useful to relax" said Giuseppe Martinelli, Technical Director of Lampre-Caffita team.
The Monza circuit is an Italian icon, being the home of the San Marino F1 Grand Prix and a spiritual home for Italian motorsport. It just so happened that the second Giro rest day coincided with 'Kawasaki day' at the track, which meant it was time for Pacho Vila to get on board one of the green machines - but just for gathered photographers' benefit. The Lampre rider wasn't about to swap his Cannondale for a Kawasaki, although it would help him climb from 26th on GC, where he currently lies after stage 15.
Racing circuits are an excellent place for cycling, with their smooth road surfaces and lack of traffic - plus it's an opportunity for fans to meet their heroes during the nation's annual three-week cycling showcase.
The gravity of Monza's history was not lost on Lampre's riders - Simoni was moved by riding on the circuit, saying, "It is a great emotion and I'm happy. It was a very particular sensation...I was alone on this large road and felt the desire to accelerate, like the Ferraris used to do! Here you feel the fascination of the asphalt..."
Simoni then spent the afternoon relaxing and with his batteries suitably recharged, plans to contest the Giro lead over the race's five remaining days. "I'm conscious the next days will be difficult but I don't want to surrender," he said. "From Thursday I will attack again. As rivals I see Di Luca and Savoldelli, both strong and determined, but I don't underestimate Garate and Caucchioli. Damiano Cunego will be an important team-mate to take time on the mountains."
Cunego is a motor racing enthusiast, so the opportunity to once again visit Monza after his trip there last November (where Moto GP ace Valentino Rossi was also a guest) was very welcome after a tough week. His chances of overall victory were all but smashed on stage 11, and he is now working for Simoni in a bid to clinch victory in Milan this Sunday.
The young gun seems to be now committed to a role as Simoni's helper, despite the original expectation that he would be a contender for victory this year. "I hope to do well in the next days," he said. "My targets now are to help Simoni to win this Giro and to try to win a stage."
Cunego was philosophical about his disastrous ride on stage 11, where he lost six minutes to the leaders and all chance of winning this Giro. "The bad experience of Zoldo Alto will certainly be useful for my career," he said.
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