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I’m adding a Favorites category here at the Sandbox. Periodically, I will add writing here that’s been posted elsewhere. A few old stories will also join the Favorites category. These are just stories that I liked. Maybe because I really wanted to write them, or because they just turned out better than I imagined. When I read them back later, they made me happy that I’d written them. It’s all rather self-indulgent, but it’s my sandbox and I’ll play how I want to.

The first of the favorites is this story from Podium Cafe about the career of Gilberto Simoni.

Gilberto Simoni has started thirteen editions of the Giro d’Italia. He was won twice, retired twice, and has finished second or third on six occasions. He counts among his successes stage wins on top of cycling’s most difficult summits, including the Zoncolan – he won that one twice – and Spain’s Angliru.

Despite his successful Giro career, the Tour de France never treated him especially well. His only stage victory came in 2003 in Loudienville after a long escape. All the same, the climber, who shares a home town with Francesco Moser in Trento, remains one of the few active riders to have celebrated stage victories in all three of cycling’s grand tours.

Now at last, Simoni is riding his last Giro d’Italia, a finale that comes after fourteen years as a professional. He has spent the first few stages tail-gunning it, staying out of trouble and waiting for the mountains. For the past two years tell the tale quite plainly, Simoni no longer has the legs for the general classification.

The Giro has visited the steep slopes of the Zoncolon on two previous occasions. Simoni has won both times. Can he win again this year? It may be a big ask. If not the Zoncolon, a long escape over the Gavia or the Mortirolo would provide a fitting end to his career, dominated as it was by successes in the high mountains. In his day, Simoni climbed with the best. Read the rest…

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