Italians love a good polemica between riders. A duel between riders is not quite enough, there has to be some sort of hatred or antagonism to add to the rivalry. If it was the battle between Coppi and Bartali in the 50s or Moser vs Saronni in the 80s, Chiaucci vs Bugno vs Pantani in the 90 and others. Now comes the latest in the line of polemics with the new battle between Gilberto Simoni and Ivan Basso.
Accusations from Simoni have come out after Saturday’s Giro stage to Aprica where Ivan Basso cemented a dominating Giro win with his third stage win. The win was particularly sweet since Basso was celebrating the birth of a new son whose picture he proudly showed the world as he crossed the finish line. Life couldn’t be better for Basso. Now Sourpuss Simoni is accusing Basso of not playing fair. First, Simoni was bitter that Basso asked him to take it easy on the descent of the Mortirolo so not to take risks. Surely Simoni thought that as a reward for chilling out, Basso would give him the stage win. Sadly for SS, it was not to be since Basso has been so much stronger than anyone else this Giro. The Smiling Assasin was not in a giving mood especially since Jens Voight gave a gift to Juan Manuel Garate the day before. Team manager Bjarne Riis must have been proud of the gesture on the outside, but cycling is as much a business as it is a sport, so a Giro stage win is quite a gift. So, CSC weren’t that much in a giving mood especially as Basso was so much stronger than Simoni at this point.
Today, Simoni has upped the ante by accusing Basso of asking for cash in exhange for allowing Simoni to take the stage win. Simoni let these accusations fly in the press, while Basso and CSC chose to ignore these statements. Lets make this clear, deals are brokered in the peloton all the time. Riders discuss deals when helping a team or negotiating a stage win. This is not new. It could be an unsavory aspect to the sport, but if a deal is offered or not there is no discussion thereafter, especially in the press. Seems like Simoni is either making up the story or doing a very unsportsman like gesture and blabbing to the press about a potential deal. Either eay,this is a no class move by a rider who is no stranger to shooting off his mouth whenever things do not go his way. The 2004 Giro is a perfect example as Simoni would be throwing all types of accusations at Cunego. Even at the Tour of California, Simoni was complaining about the tougher than expected pace of the race. Simoni was also at odds with Marco Pantani throughout his career, and helps deny the Pirate a stage win in his final Giro in 2003. So, Simoni is definatley no stranger to polemics with other riders, this is simply the latest round of “who can PO Gibo”