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Tour 2002: Simoni says he can beat Armstrong

Giro d’Italia champion Gilberto, who will race for the Saeco team next year, is confident that he has what it takes to deny Lance Armstrong what would be his fourth consecutive victory in the Tour de France. "I have had a look at the route for the 2002 Tour and I like it," said Simoni on Thursday, speaking via the Internet from Japan. "Assuming I am racing [the Tour], I will certainly have a chance of winning it. I am stronger than Armstrong on the climbs." The Italian’s main problem will be getting to the start line, as Saeco is not one of the 16 automatic team selections. Even so, he went

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By VeloNews Interactive Wire Services, Copyright AFP 2001

Giro d’Italia champion Gilberto, who will race for the Saeco team next year, is confident that he has what it takes to deny Lance Armstrong what would be his fourth consecutive victory in the Tour de France. “I have had a look at the route for the 2002 Tour and I like it,” said Simoni on Thursday, speaking via the Internet from Japan. “Assuming I am racing [the Tour], I will certainly have a chance of winning it. I am stronger than Armstrong on the climbs.”

The Italian’s main problem will be getting to the start line, as Saeco is not one of the 16 automatic team selections. Even so, he went on to say about next year’s Tour, “There are six climbing stages and five finishes at altitude, and I am stronger than Armstrong on the climb. I realized that during the Tour of Switzerland when we had the chance to test each other in the same conditions.”

Simoni, who did not take part in this year’s Tour de France where Armstrong cruised to his third straight victory, admitted that the Texan would have an advantage in the time-trial stages. But he said that with a little careful planning, he could challenge the 29-year-old Armstrong for the yellow jersey. “I am aware that time trials are not my forte, and in this field I am not as good as Armstrong. But I have all winter to improve my performances in that kind of race.”

Copyright AFP 2001