Danish team CSC are rumoured to have entered a bidding war for former Giro d’Italia winner Gilberto
PIC BY TIM DE WAELE CSC boss Bjarne Riis this evening chose to remain tight-lipped about rumours linking his team with Italian climbing ace Gilberto Simoni. Contacted by procycling, Riis would neither confirm nor deny that his team had approached Simoni’s agents Alex and Johnny Carera with a view to signing the out-of-contract 34 year old. Earlier in the day, Saunier Duval boss Mauro Gianetti had told Belgian newspaper Het Laaste Nieuws that his hopes of signing Simoni had received a blow when he learned that CSC were also pursuing the Italian. Contacted by procycling on Wednesday evening, Gianetti said that Simoni was “apparently keen to join CSC”. Gianetti stressed, however, that his hunch was “only based on what sources have told me”. The Saunier Duval supremo said that he expected to meet Simoni again to discuss an offer he tabled on Tuesday in the next 36 hours. Simoni’s agents, the Careras, have already stated that Simoni will announce the identity of his new team in a press conference on Friday morning. The prospect of Simoni joining CSC and linking up with Ivan Basso is an intriguing one. In the past, Basso has been critical of Simoni’s tendency to air outspoken views in the media. When Simoni rubbished rumours that Lance Armstrong would ride the 2005 Giro earlier this year, Basso sniffed: “Simoni’s an expert when it comes to talking on behalf of other people.” The arrival of Simoni at CSC would, on the other hand, clearly indicate that Basso intends to shelve his Giro-Tour double ambition next season, leaving Simoni to target the pink jersey.