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Simeoni stays with Flaminia, appeals to Armstrong

Italian champion Filippo Simeoni will race one more year

Italian champion Filippo Simeoni will race one more year (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Weeks of anticipation have swirled around which banner Filippo Simeoni would race under in the 2009 season. The Italian national champion put an end to the rumours on Wednesday when he made the decision to stay with Ceramica Flaminia-Bossini Docce, his 2008 team. Simeoni has signed a contract that will tie himself to the team from Lazio region of Italy and its manager Roberto Marrone for one more season.

Speaking of the 2008 national championship, Marrone said, "Wearing our jersey, Simeoni conquered a trophy that is most important in the life of a rider and a team. It seemed right to remain faithful to it."

The designated team leader, who said the 2009 season could be his last, agreed. "After winning the national championships' jersey, the most prestigious victory of my career, I want to prove myself against the strongest riders of Italy again," the 38-year-old said in a press release.

Simeoni, who hopes for a team invite to the 2009 Giro d'Italia, also sent a reconciling message towards come-back rider Lance Armstrong, who will race the Giro with his Astana team. The Italian and the American were at odds over Italian sports doctor Michele Ferrari during the last years of Armstrong's career.

"We are rivals on the bike, but we can be friends in charity works," he said. "He is dedicated to the fight against cancer, and I am dedicated to [Italian blood donation association] AVIS. These are two solidarity projects that could be united in one important event for the world of sport and society. I would like to ride with Armstrong side by side to promote our projects for a good cause."

In 2002, Simeoni admitted to taking doping products and testified that he had been instructed in this sense by Ferrari, who was then convicted of sporting fraud but later acquitted. In July 2003, Armstrong accused Simeoni of being a liar, and the feud between the two ended in court. The Italian said he was threatened by Armstrong as well as other pros when the American chased him down during stage 18 of the 2004 Tour de France. (Kirsten Robbins contributed to this report.)

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