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  Thursday, 23 May, 2002, 17:36 GMT 18:36 UK
Simoni claims first stage victory
Gilberto Simoni celebrates his victory in stage 11
Thursday's stage results

Defending champion Gilberto Simoni brushed aside doping suspicions to claim victory in the 11th stage of the Giro D'Italia.

Simoni, who has been allowed to continue in the race despite testing positive for cocaine metabolites, beat fellow Italian Francesco Casagrande in a two-way sprint to the line.

The Saeco rider broke away with Casagrande two kilometres from the finish at the ski resort of Campitello Matese.


It is a day of great satisfaction and joy for me
Gilberto Simoni

It was Simoni's first victory in the current Giro, with nine stages remaining before the finish in Milan on 2 June.

Young Italian Franco Pellizzotti pipped Fernando Escartin and Dario Frigo for third place, four seconds behind.

German rider Jens Heppner of the Telekom team retained his overall lead after finishing one minute and two seconds behind the winner.

The 37-year-old German leads Casagrande by 2:58 and Simoni by 3:15 overall.

Simoni had tested positive for cocaine metabolites in a random test on the eve of the Giro del Trentino last month.

He blamed the result on an anesthetic injection he had during dental treatment.

Thrown out

Dentist Bruno Grosselli confirmed in an Italian television interview on Thursday that he had treated Simoni hours before tests were carried out by the World Anti-doping Agency.

Stefano Garzelli was thrown out of the race on Tuesday after the banned diuretic probenecid was found in a urine sample.

Simoni will not be disqualified even if the second analysis confirms the presence of cocaine because the test took place before the start of the race.

"There is no anger in my victory today but certainly I reacted to yesterday's bad day when I felt empty, and I spent hours in my hotel room looking at the ceiling," he said.

"It is a day of great satisfaction and joy for me. I dedicate this victory to my wife."

Friday's twelfth stage over 140km takes the Giro from Campobasso to Chieti.


Thursday's results:

Eleventh stage (Benevento to Campitello Matese, 140km):

1 Gilberto Simoni (Ita), Saeco-Longoni Sport, 4hrs, 3mins, 37secs
2 Francesco Casagrande (Ita), Fassa Bartolo, same time
3 Franco Pellizzotti (Ita), Alessio, at 4secs
4 Fernando Escartin (Spa), Team Coast, same time
5 Dario Frigo (Ita), Tacconi Sport, same time
6 Andrea Noe (Ita), Mapei, same time
7 Joaquim Castelblanco (Col), Selle Italia, same time
8 Pietro Caucchioli (Ita), Alessio, same time
9 Aitor Gonzalez Jimenez (Spa), Kelme, 11secs
10 Juan Manuel Garate (Spa), Lampre, 18secs

Overall Standings:

1 Jens Heppner (Ger), 52hrs, 54mins, 27secs
2 Francesco Casagrande (Ita), at 2:58
3 Gilberto Simoni (Ita), 3:15
4 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita), 3:43
5 Pietro Caucchioli (Ita), same time
6 Fernando Escartin (Spa), 3:46
7 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr), 3:50
8 Wladimir Belli (Ita), 3:55
9 Aitor Gonzalez Jimenez (Spa), 3:58
10 Cadel Evans (Aus), 4:03

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See also:

22 May 02 | Cycling
22 May 02 | Cycling
21 May 02 | Cycling
21 May 02 | Cycling
20 May 02 | Cycling
19 May 02 | Cycling
18 May 02 | Cycling
18 May 02 | Cycling
17 May 02 | Cycling
17 May 02 | Cycling
15 May 02 | Cycling
14 May 02 | Cycling
13 May 02 | Cycling
12 May 02 | Cycling
11 May 02 | Cycling
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