Simoni could become oldest Giro d'Italia winner

Updated: May 5, 2006, 4:52 PM ET

LIEGE, Belgium -- Veteran cyclist Gilberto Simoni will launch his campaign to become the oldest winner of the Giro d'Italia when the three-week race starts in Belgium on Saturday.

The 34-year-old Italian previously won the event in 2001 and 2003.

"I have to be a bit mad to think I can win again but we'll see if I'm mad enough in the next three weeks," Simoni told reporters on Friday. "A friend of mine recently told me I have to be conscious and coherent and that made me think.

"I'm conscious I've won the Giro twice and that I want to win for a third time but at my age and considering my rivals in the Giro, I don't like the word coherent," he added. "I've decided to cancel it from my vocabulary and replace it with mad. I'm going to have to be mad if I want to win the Giro but I'm going to try and come up with something."

The other riders, worried about Simoni's aggressive style for the mountains in the final week, will try to gain time on him in the flat time trials early on.

"We've been working hard so I think we'll surprise a few people in the time trials," said Simoni.

"The final week of the Giro will decide who wins. There are a lot of climbs and there are a lot of different mountaintop finishes that will isolate other riders," he said.