Simoni enjoys Down Under - looks forward to Giro

After a 28 hour flight from Adelaide to Verona, Gilberto Simoni (Lampre-Caffita) has returned from his first race of the season, the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under, with a positive balance. "I had a great experience, I enjoyed the racing in Australia, the race is very well organised, the public are great, the organisers know what they doing and do an excellent job," said Simoni, who finished 78th.

"I am sorry I could not have been in better form for the race, it was obvious that I could not have prepared better for the race, the weather in my town did not permit me to do the preparation needed. However I was happy with the outcome of the race and the procedure of my form."

Simoni showed his support had an Australian flavour with a special saddle covered in the Australian flag. It was one of the "Saddles of Nations" that were made by Italian company fi'zi:k for its sponsored cyclists who raced at the 2004 Olympics. The 'Aussie Arione' is the first of only 50 to be made.

Lampre's sports director Guido Bontempi declared himself to be "satisfied with the results and the general outcome of the race, and also with the way in which the riders rode, Marzoli and Righi have integrated well with the new riders of the team. It was a good pre-test for the team before starting their racing in Europe."

Simoni missed the presentation of the Giro d'Italia, and he is waiting to see a race profile before giving any detailed comments. But he was more than pleased about the inclusion of the Pordoi climb, where he laid the foundations for his 2003 Giro victory. "I am very happy to once again find Pordoi in this year's edition, hopefully this will help me bring my third victory in the race," he said.

The Australian contingent of Lampre-Caffita will be joining the rest of the team at the training camp in Terracina starting from Wednesday, February 2.

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