July 27, 2004
More on Armstrong's Giro plans
Italian organizers are encouraging Lance Armstrong to race in the 2005 Giro d'Italia.
“To give more weight to his career, Armstrong absolutely must ride the Giro, also for the affection he has for Italy,” said Franco Ballerini, a former professional rider and current coach of the Italian national team.
Armstrong has never raced the Giro, because its scheduling, in late May and early June, makes it difficult to reach a fitness peak that includes the Giro and the Tour. Riders who compete in both, like Gilberto Simoni, often have very weak Tours de France.
Interestingly, following the Simeoni business at the Tour, not all Italians are so enthusiastic. The Globe and Mail quotes Claudio Chiapucchi, who finished on the Tour podium 3 times:
Chiapucci said Armstrong “behaved liked a baby” with Simeoni.
“The Texan leaves me indifferent and it would be that way also on the streets of the Giro d'Italia,” said El Diablo — the devil — as Chiapucci was known in his competitive days.
Italian cycling president Gian Carlo Ceruti also denounced Armstrong's treatment of Simeoni as “unsportsmanlike.”
However, 1984 Giro winner Francesco Moser said having Armstrong at the Giro “wouldn't be bad, especially since he lived in Italy when he rode for Motorola and he had a great friend like Fabio Casartelli,” referring to Armstrong's former team and teammate, who died in a fall at the 1995 Tour.
Alfredo Martini, Italy's national cycling team coach from 1975 to 1997, said Armstrong could ride both the Giro and the Tour.
“A champion like him, with a team as strong as his, could do it easily,” Martini said.
Armstrong has already done some research, riding the Mortirolo in the Italian Alps in May.