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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 June, 2003, 13:12 GMT 14:12 UK
Gilberto Simoni
SIMONI PROFILE
Gilberto Simoni
DOB: 25/8/1971
Nationality: Italian
Team:
Best Tour: n/a
After what happened last year, Gilberto Simoni has more than most to prove this time around.

Simoni and his Saeco team had originally been invited to compete in the Tour.

But the team's invitiation was withdrawn when the Italian tested non-negative for cocaine.

Despite protestations of his innocence, he was banned from competing and Tour officials insisted his team were no longer welcome.

Eventually, though, he was completely cleared and exhonerated of all blame but it was too late for the Tour.

Prior to his ban, however, he was tipped as the best bet to challenge Lance Armstrong, by the Texan himself.

It remains to be seen whether he can pose a similar threat having battled it out to win the Giro d'Italia back in May. This time Armstrong does not think so.

Simoni has plenty to prove and both he and his team should be fresh despite the Giro d'Italia, where he sealed an excellent win.

The 31-year-old has previous experience of the French mountains and, ater his double Tour misery, he looks a strong bet for a high finish.

He has already revealed he is in perfect condition to tackle the mountain stages.

  • Armstrong on Simoni: "For sure he was impressive in the Giro and since then he's been talking a lot, but talk is cheap as they say."



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