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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 June, 2003, 10:13 GMT 11:13 UK
Saeco
TEAM PROFILE
Gilberto Simoni
Country: Italy
Team manager: Bruno Vicino
Team leader:
Best Tour: 1999 - Laurent Dufaux, fourth
Saeco's absence from last year's Tour de France caused a storm of controversy.

The Italian team had been due to compete before team leader Gilberto Simoni was handed a ban for testing non-negative for cocaine.

As a result, their invitation to compete in the race was withdrawn.

Simoni is back now and has been labelled by Lance Armstrong as one of the real danger men in the overall classification.

Team boss Bruno Vicino has already targeted the race as the team's goal for the 2003 season.

As if to prove a point the team has been in sensational form this season.

Mirko Celestino started the World Cup campaign in scintillating fashion with second place in the Milan-Sanremo.

Danilo Di Luca followed that up with third in the Amstel Gold Race, while Dario Pieri was second in the famously arduous Paris-Roubaix.

But undoubtedly the big win of the season came courtesy of Simoni when he romped to victory in the Giro.

With the team now free to compete in the Tour, they will be doing their utmost to prove their abilities to race organisers and their major rivals.

And Simoni has warned his rivals he is in perfect shape for the mountains and should make the podium with the support of his team.





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