Simoni Talks: From Then To Now
At the Saunier Duval-Prodir team camp in January, we talked with a lot of the team and riders. It’s always interesting to get the look back at how various riders anticipated the coming season. In this ‘never before published’ interview, Gilberto looks ahead to the Giro…
This report originally recorded in January 2007
Sometimes the interview game is a difficult one, even without the language
barrier. There’s a young Italian journo at the next table interviewing Italian
mountain-man Leonardo Piepoli. There’s no language difficulty, but the little climber maybe only gives him a dozen sentences.
Despite his tiny stature, Piepoli is a big personality and you always hear him before you see him, point a microphone at him and he gets quiet – maybe it was the six hours he did today? Having witnessed this performance it’s with a bit of trepidation that I approach the second of my ‘big three’ interviews – Millar, Simoni and Mayo.
Simoni and Piepoli go 1-2 atop the feared Zoncolan at this year’s Giro.
Simoni is small and despite this being the start of his 14th season as a pro
he looks youthful and fresh, he smiles a lot but as one of his team mates
said; ‘he’s on “Planet Gilbo”, all the best guys are a little “different” aren’t they?
I’ve been watching him being interviewed, he loses interest quickly, but I
remember a tip that the mighty Pez gave me; ‘he likes talking about girls!’
Here we go:
Pez: You are entering your 14th season what’s good and what’s bad about that?
GS: It would take a book to tell you, but I can tell you that I am still
very highly motivated to race and to win, I still have dreams.
Pez: You had 12 seasons in Italian squadra, how does Saunier compare?
GS: It is a good team, the ambience is good and I am happy here.
Pez: How many more seasons?
GS: I take each season as it comes, I think in the ‘now’ not the future,
like I say I am still very highly motivated to train, race and win; six hours training today and six hours training tomorrow but I have no problems with this.
(He’s still smiling, body language is OK, he’s not moving around on his seat
but has plucked his cell phone from his pocket, a bad sign, fire in the humour, Ed.)
Pez: What about the ladies who helped you out of you canoe last night at the presentation, they were ‘bella’?
GS: It was a spectacular presentation, the team organized something
different and good last night, and I enjoyed it very much. I have ridden with teams where this amount of thought and effort did not go into the team launch so I am very happy about being part of last night. And yes, the ladies were beautiful too.
Pez: What is your programme for 2007?
GS: My programme is always based on a good ride in the Giro, but I start in Murcia in March, everything from there is aimed to getting me to the Giro in my best shape.
Piz: Have you reconnoitered the Zoncolan climb yet?
GS: Yes, I have seen it, people say that it is the hardest in Europe but I
think it depends upon a lot of factors, for example the stage length, the weather and how hard the stage is being raced. I think that the Angliru, here in Spain is very tough too, it’s all relative.
Pez: Do you worry abut any conflicts with Iban over leadership.
GS: No, my main target is the Giro, Iban’s will be the Vuelta, if he rides
the Giro, it will be to learn, it’s a very different race to the Vuelta. I have no worries about any situation like that with this team, it is only false people you have to worry about and I think we have none in this team. As for Iban, he is a fine rider who is hoping to have a rebirth with this team; he has achieved something that I have always dreamed about in cycling – to win at l’Alpe d’Huez.
Pez: What’s your opinion on the Pro Tour/Grand Tours dispute?
GS: No comment.
(He’s moving around a little and playing with his cell phone, we’ll try more
Pez: Did you send Cunego a Christmas card?
(Oops! Talk about the bike, that’ll put us back on track.)
Scott bikes custom painted one-off Addicts for Simoni, Piepoli (seen here), and Mayo.
Pez: What is your opinion on your new Scott and the SRAM groupset?
GS: Last year the bike was very good and as light as possible and then this year they make it even lighter; but there are the weight problems with the UCI – so . . . .
He’s no equipment fanatic; he’s the only guy in the squad who I’ve spoken to that didn’t get over-the-top excited about the Addict and the SRAM groupset.
Pez: What’s your opinion on Discovery signing Basso?
GS: It’s their business…
(Time to quit.)
Pez: Can I have few pictures?
And he clowns for the camera, but he’s back on Planet Gibo; but maybe
That’s where you have to be to win the Giro twice?