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Last Updated: Friday, 25 June, 2004, 14:26 GMT 15:26 UK
Gilberto Simoni
SIMONI PROFILE
Gilberto Simoni
DOB: 25/8/1971
Nationality: Italian
Best Tour: 2003 - 84th
Ahead of last year's Tour de France, Lance Armstrong had insisted Jan Ullrich would be his closest rival.

The Texan was spot on, but he was way off the mark with his prediction for Gilberto Simoni - saying the Italian could yet be a threat.

The Saeco team leader was a dire 84th place almost three hours back after struggling in the mountains.

Some argued he had put too much into his home event - the Giro d'Italia - which could be a problem again.

He rode a hard race in 2003 for victory but had to make do with third place this time around.

Whatever the case, he is far more focused than his troubled 2002 season, in which he was thrown out of the Giro for testing non-negative for cocaine.

As a result, the team's invitation to compete in Le Tour was withdrawn.

He was eventually completely cleared and exhonerated of all blame but it was too late for the Tour.

Simoni has been accused of making too many claims about his ability but delivering too little.

Recently Armstrong said: "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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