Tour de France Prep: Simoni Scouts Climbs
From the “if you can’t beat him, join him” department, Gilberto Simoni followed Lance’s example of recent years and recently scouted the Tours climbs for himself. As reported at the Team Saeco website, Gibo says: “L’Alpe d’Huez is the hardest”.
Reported June 19, 2003 – Team Saeco’s recognition of the three alpine stages of the Tour de France ended today after two days of hard riding.
The winner of the recent Giro d’Italia first checked out the stage seven of the Tour to Morzine on Wednesday with team mates Di Luca, Sacchi and Pugaci, with full back up from directeur sportif Giuseppe Martinelli, mechanic Giuseppe Archetti and soigneur Massimiliano Napolitano.
Simoni rode the last 120km of the stage and then rode an extra 40km with Sacchi to complete the day’s training. Naturally all their attention was on the final climb the Col de la Ramaz: “A really tough climb, which I didn’t know and so was vital to see,” Martinelli said.
The first part of today was spent looking at the early section of the stage to L’Alpe d’Huez. After 80km by car, Simoni and his team mates rode the last 110km of the stage climbing the Telegraphe, the Galibier and L’Alpe d’Huez. Before heading back to Italy Simoni and Martinelli also studied the final part of the Col de Lautaret which is part of the ninth stage to Gap. They also rode the Izoard before a quick trip to see the last two short climbs.
“It was an excellent trip,” Simoni said at the end of the sun-baked two-day visit to France. “I felt good and was pedalling well. We did the climbs and descents without worrying about the speed, the most important thing was to study the key points of the stages and memorise them.”
Simoni has no doubts about which is the hardest Alpine stage: “The stage to Morzine is hard but is only a warm-up for the following day to L’Alpe d’Huez. That’s the most difficult stage of all and it’s where I think there will be big time gaps. The stage over the Izoard is not as tough but with heavy legs it could still hurt.”