Simoni ready for Australia

Gilberto Simoni is gearing up to start his season in the sunny climes of Adelaide, Australia, as he will form part of Lampre-Cafitta's roster in the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under. "During the Tour de France 2004 the Tour Down Under was proposed to me, which I accepted immediately," said Simoni, who has been keeping himself fit during winter with cyclo-cross. "It's an opportunity that will give me the upper hand on my rivals. It's a great way to start my preparation, the weather is good and the racing will be good for my form."

Like many other Europeans who come to Australia at the start of the season, only to greet a peloton of local riders at the peak of their fitness, Simoni has no illusions about being competitive. "Obviously I cannot think of being in top condition, also because unlike the sprinters who aim at being in form for this time of the season such as Milan-San Remo, my objectives remain those of the Giro d'Italia and onwards, my main objective being that of winning the Giro for my third time, Lampre 2001, Saeco 2003 and Lampre-Caffita 2005.

"Australia is a country unknown to me and I look forward to travelling there and racing there, although it will be no holiday for me as the racing will be difficult for me especially with the form I currently have. It's a race more for the sprinters, there will be a lot of riders looking at winning and making a top race out of the tour as many riders will arrive at the race with many kilometres of training in their legs."

Simoni celebrated New Year's Eve with his wife Arianna and baby Sofia. He will spend his last few days of training on the shores of Lake Garda in northern Italy, doing four hour rides of about 120 km in the company of Bertolini, Piccoli and Francesco Moser's grandson.

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