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Tour in brief: Simoni wants a break; Tour wants info in doping allegations

Simoni eager for rest daySaeco’s Gilberto Simoni says Monday’s first rest day of the Tour de France cannot come quick enough for him. The 32-year-old Italian, a two-time winner of the Giro d’Italia, was hanging on by a thread on Saturday as the seventh stage raced over 204.5km from Chateaubriant to Saint Brieuc. At one point, Simoni was close to calling it quits as he held onto his team manager's car, complaining that his head was spinning and he felt terrible. Radio Tour even reported that he had abandoned. However, after persuasion by team manager Giuseppe Martinelli, Simoni continued

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By VeloNews Interactive and wire services

Simoni eager for rest day
Saeco’s Gilberto Simoni says Monday’s first rest day of the Tour de France cannot come quick enough for him.

The 32-year-old Italian, a two-time winner of the Giro d’Italia, was hanging on by a thread on Saturday as the seventh stage raced over 204.5km from Chateaubriant to Saint Brieuc.

At one point, Simoni was close to calling it quits as he held onto his team manager’s car, complaining that his head was spinning and he felt terrible. Radio Tour even reported that he had abandoned.

However, after persuasion by team manager Giuseppe Martinelli, Simoni continued his pursuit of the peloton, which he eventually rejoined near the end of the stage.

“Now, I’m feeling okay,” Simoni told AFP, looking battered, but happy to have finished. “I’m hoping to continue but I’m really looking forward to Monday’s rest day. Hopefully after that it will be a new start for me, and an altogether different race. I can’t give up. I’ve done a lot of work this year, and put in a lot of hours preparing for the Tour.”

Simoni, who comes into the race after a morale-sapping Giro d’Italia, where younger teammate Damiano Cunego snatched the overall victory from under his nose, was caught in the mass crash at the end of Friday’s stage, adding injury to the insult of having three minutes added to his time when he finished behind five teammates in Wednesday’s team time trial.

Simoni said he’d suffered on Saturday while trying to keep up with a peloton that seemed hardly interested in showing him clemency.

“I’m still sore everywhere, my back and my knee,” he said. “My condition was good, but then the crash and the team time trial ruling just made me puke. Hopefully, I can refind my morale along the way.”

Tour wants more info in doping allegations
Tour de France officials have sent letters to investigating magistrates in Padova and San Remo seeking more information on four alleged doping cases.

The French daily Le Monde said this week that four Tour riders – Czech Pavel Padrnos (U.S. Postal Service), Italians Stefano Zanini (Quick Step) and Andrea Peron (CSC), and Slovenian Martin Hvastija (Alessio-Bianchi) – were being investigated in Italy.

“We’ve sent letters to the investigating magistrates in Padova and San Remo requesting more information on those cases,” said Tour director Jean-Marie Leblanc.

“For the time being, they’re nothing but journalistic allegations. But if it turned out that there were serious charges against the riders concerned, we would not hesitate to take the same measures as with previous cases, that is to exclude them.”

Cofidis riders David Millar of Britain and Cedric Vasseur of France, and Saeco rider Danilo Di Luca of Italy, all were banned from the Tour after being officially charged with doping.