Simoni furious but Riis says "no more gifts"

Gilberto Simoni tonight insinuated that Ivan Basso had broken a pact by beating him to victory in th

Gilberto Simoni tonight insinuated that Ivan Basso had broken a pact by beating him to victory in th
PIC BY TIM DE WAELE That Gilberto Simoni is not known for his diplomacy is one of the universal truths of Italian cycling. But tonight the 34-year-old Saunier Duval excelled himself. Dropped by Ivan Basso four kilometres from the finish-line of stage 20 of the Giro d'Italia to Aprica, Simoni launched into a bitter tirade against Basso. "He had told me to wait for him on the descent off the Mortirolo and gave the impression that we'd go to the finish-line together," a visibly outraged Simoni commented. "If I had thought Basso was going to do that in the finale, I would have played my cards differently. There are no gentlemen left." Simoni drew breath before adding: "I'm glad that this Giro is about to finish because I've never seen anyone dominate like this before. [Basso's] like an extraterrestrial." When he later watched a recording of Simoni's diatribe on live Italian television, Basso struggled to conceal his annoyance. The "extraterrestrial" tag, in particular, seem recall the accusatory innuendo which Lance Armstrong has often faced, and clearly grated with Basso. "I don't want people calling me extraterrestrial or cannibal," Basso said. " I wish people would remember that I have finished on the podium in the Tour twice, and that I was practically the only rider who could stay with Armstrong in the mountains. It's not as though this performance comes out of the blue." Team CSC boss Bjarne Riis listened impassively at Basso's side before intervening with words that again evoked memories of Armstrong. "I'm glad that Ivan went for the win, because he deserved it. He's the strongest man in the race. We've given enough presents now. No more gifts. I have a sponsor to keep happy, too." Basso would later regret that "there always seems to be some kind of controversy when I win." Basso also seemed to deny having asked Simoni to wait for him on the Mortirolo descent. "I said to him that I didn't want to take any risks and that I thought we would have a better chance to gain time if we descended and rode together in the valley. I think that once Gilberto has reflected on this, he'll realize that what I didn't wasn't as terrible as he thinks." "I didn't go to extreme lengths to try to drop him - I just climbed at my own rhythm," Basso added. The CSC team leader said later that he hopes to "clear up any misunderstanding" with Simoni before the start of tomorrow's stage at the Museo del Ghisallo. "I think we all know that Gilberto isn't averse to this kind of outburst straight after races," Basso said.
This article was published by BikeRadar, the world's leading source of bike reviews, gear reviews, riding advice and route information
  • Discipline: Road, Mountain, Urban, Womens
  • Location: UK, USA, Australia
Back to top