Profile of the Day: The Spider

Well, for some reason it's Simoni day, if the usual suspects at VN and CN are any indication. Maybe it's because Saunier Duval have been training on the southern Spanish Mediterranean coast, and journalists have descended on their posh resort in Estepona.

Regardless, Simoni is no accidental feature, he's an interesting figure for the upcoming season. However annoying he may be (some weird Pereiro parallels), he raced formidably in placing third at last year's Giro, mixing it up on all the mountain stages (including his nasty battle on the penultimate stage to Aprica), and showed superior form to all but Ivan Basso and Jose E. Gutierrez... two guys with legal issues which could cloud their participation. So far Basso figures to be back, and Simoni was no match for il Varesino. I honestly can't recall what Gutierrez' status is, but if he's cleared to ride, he'll be among the contenders. Cunego figures to be better... but Simoni had his number last year at least. Savoldelli, DiLuca... not sure who else out there could be favored ahead of the Spider. Not many people, even though Simoni is 35.

I'm not much of a fan because of his mouth, but I respect Simoni's prowess on the bike, and at age 34 he still looked like a natural-born climber, so I wouldn't expect much less in this year's more relaxed Giro. No way he can beat Basso, especially where there are flat time trials involved, but Simoni will be there with a top team in support, and will be at the head of the big climbs, probably every day. His ceiling is still pink, even if his floor is a better bet.

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