Gilberto Simoni signed a contract yesterday that will allow him to race the Giro d’Italia and end his career with Lampre-Farnese Vini.
“I am doing it all to have another chance to race the Giro, which I consider ‘my’ race,” the 38 year-old Italian told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “I have always trained convinced I would race it. Maybe in the first stages I will lack a little bit of rhythm, but the good parts come at the end.”
Simoni’s contract with Lampre will allow him to end his 17-year professional career at the Giro d’Italia, May 8 to 30. It will be his 15th time to line up in the race, which he won in 2001 and 2003.
He signed the contract yesterday and, with the team, delivered it immediately to the UCI in Switzerland. The speed at which the deal was sealed means that he will have a chance to race the Giro del Trentino which starts on Sunday and was his first professional win in 1997.
“There was not a moment to waste,” he said.
Damiano Cunego will not race Trentino as he is racing the Ardennes Classics, but the two will be re-united at the Giro d’Italia. They have not raced together since the 2005 Tour of Lombardy with the Lampre-Caffita team.
A year earlier, racing for Saeco, their relationship broke down when Cunego won four stages and the eventual Giro d’Italia overall at age 22. As Cunego celebrated his fourth stage win at Bormio, Simoni shouted, “you’re a b*****d” at him.
Simoni had won his first Giro d’Italia with Lampre, but he felt threatened by the team’s new talent. Six years on, the two have apparently settled their differences.
“If he joins us,” Cunego told Cycling Weekly last month, “I would be happy.”
Simoni won a stage and held the lead of the Vuelta Mexico last year racing for team Diquigiovanni. He then raced the Giro d’Italia, where he helped his team win three stages and finished 46 minutes behind winner Denis Menchov.
Various members of the Lampre team are currently involved in an Italian doping investigation.
Damiano Cunego rider profile
2010 Giro d’Italia coverage in association with Zipvit