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Simoni taunts Armstrong over Giro

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MILAN, Italy, Nov 8 (Reuters) -- Italy's Gilberto Simoni, winner of the Giro d'Italia in 2001 and 2003, has challenged five-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong to a Giro-Tour duel in 2004.

Armstrong always focuses his season on the Tour in July and has never ridden the Giro which is raced in May. "If Armstrong rode both the Giro d'Italia and then the Tour de France we'd see how good he really is, for better or worse," Simoni said.

Simoni made his remarks at the official presentation of the 2004 Giro route on Saturday.

"He has said he wants to ride the Giro at least once during his career and this could be the right moment to do it.

"Next year the Giro finishes at the end of May and the hardest stages of the Tour de France are in late July, so he'd have enough time to recover."

The last rider to win the Giro and the Tour in the same year was Miguel Indurain of Spain in 1993.

Armstrong has won the Tour for the last five years, but Simoni has always struggled in France after racing hard in the Giro.

The 2004 Giro starts with a prologue in the port of Genoa on May 8 and ends in Milan on May 30.

Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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