Gilberto Simoni will not continue with Gianni Savio's Androni team in 2010, signalling the possible conclusion to his career. Savio named the riders for next season yesterday, but there was no mention of Simoni, a two-time winner of the Giro d'Italia.
"In 25 years I've had a lot of great wins, but the biggest win is that every year everyone, riders and staff, are always paid," Savio told Cyclingnews. "The key is making a team with the budget that you have available.
"We would never offer Gilberto Simoni a minimum-wage contract. It's better to say we don't have the money for next year than to make that offer."
The 38-year-old Italian joined Savio's Diquigiovanni team in 2008 (to be called Androni in 2010). He had finished fourth overall at the 2007 Giro d'Italia and won the race's stage 17 to Monte Zoncolan.
This March, he won stage three and held the lead of the Vuelta Mexico. He also raced this year's Giro and helped the team win three stages, but finished 46 minutes behind overall winner Denis Menchov (Rabobank). It could have been his last major race as a road rider and Savio's team could be the last of his 11-year career.
"I don't know, and I don't think he still knows what he wants to do," continued Savio.
Last month, Simoni's agents met with team Lampre's team boss, Giuseppe Saronni. Saronni discussed the idea of re-uniting Simoni with his star rider, Damiano Cunego.
"It was an interesting idea, he's given Lampre a lot of success. But, it ended there, as an idea," said Saronni today.
Simoni and Cunego rode together in the same team from 2002 to 2005. Their relationship broke down while Cunego won four stages and the overall classification of the 2004 Giro d'Italia.
Astana had also spoken with Simoni's agents. The team wanted to bring in the veteran rider to support two-time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador.
"It was an idea, but then it did not happen," Astana's new directeur sportif, Giuseppe Martinelli, told Cyclingnews. "We wanted him to race the Giro and Tour with Contador, but he only had intentions to race the Giro and then end his career. The discussions ended there."
With the number of top teams limited, Simoni may now try to find a smaller squad, which may allow him to end his career at home in the Giro del Trentino in April.
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