June 13, 2007

Cipollini gets Punk'd

Mario “The Lion King” Cipollini was set up a few years ago, in every cyclist's worst nightmare. During a training ride, he's stopped and told his house was broken into and his bikes stolen. Then, before he can get home, a crappy mobile home passes by, with two of his bikes strapped to the back. You don't need to know Italian to enjoy what comes next...

(Via Velochimp).

Posted by Frank Steele on June 13, 2007 in Mario Cipollini | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 10, 2007

Taking the DeLorean back to 1998

Peleton 3
Peleton 3,
originally uploaded by conibonjovi.
Somebody posted photos from the Tour's 1998 visit to Ireland today. That was, of course, the Tour made infamous by the Festina affair, and eventually won by Marco Pantani.

I see a few recognizable faces here, and in shots of the body of the peloton here and here. It would be very cool if you could tag the photo with notes of riders you recognize.

Also, does anyone know which stage this is? I think that's Chris Boardman in yellow, which means it's Stage 1 or the beginning of Stage 2, when he crashed out. The pictures are marked as “March 2004”, which is obviously wrong.

Some help: the 1998 review from letour.fr, including team rosters.

I promise no more games like this once there's some actual racing...

Posted by Frank Steele on January 10, 2007 in Bobby Julich, Erik Dekker, Erik Zabel, George Hincapie, Jan Ullrich, Jorg Jaksche, Magnus Backstedt, Marco Pantani, Mario Cipollini, Photo galleries, Robbie McEwen, Tyler Freaking Hamilton, Viatcheslav Ekimov | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 22, 2005

Petacchi to Domina Vacanze, exit stage left for Fassa Bortolo

VeloNews.com | Petacchi joins Domina Vacanze, as Fassa folds for '06

Italian supersprinter Alessandro Petacchi signed with Domina Vacanze for 2006 today.

Petacchi's current team, Fassa Bortolo, will dissolve at season's end. Petacchi teammate Juan Antonio Flecha signed with Rabobank earlier this week.

Petacchi committed for three years. Rumors had him insisting that several teammates come with him -- keep your eyes peeled for more announcements.

Update: BBC Sport reports:

Fabio Sacchi, Marco Velo and Alberto Ongarato are expected to move with him.

Velo, of course, has the greatest possible cycling name.

Petacchi's predecessor as king of the Italian sprinters was Mario Cipollini, who finished his career with Domina Vacanze.

Update: Marcello points out that Cipollini took some starts for Liquigas-Bianchi, including a final win over Petacchi this spring, but I have trouble giving them credit for being his last team when he quit at the end of April.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 22, 2005 in Alessandro Petacchi, Mario Cipollini, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (2)

May 07, 2005

Brett Lancaster Giro's first leader

Cipollini's last skinsuit fashion show

Australia's Brett Lancaster of Panaria was the fastest kilo man in the field Saturday evening, taking the prologue of the 88th Giro d'Italia.

The unusually short prologue favored riders with track experience and sprinters, and Lancaster, who took a gold medal in Athens in the team pursuit, made the most of it, covering 1.15 kilometers in 1:20.958. Of course, the shortness also means you can throw a blanket over about the top half of the field, with the top 10 all within 2 seconds of Lancaster. The last-placed rider was Australia's Trent Wilson, 17 seconds back of Lancaster.

The prologue was run under the lights, along the coast at Reggio Calabria, with prime-time TV coverage in Italy.

Discovery's Paolo Savoldelli finished highest among those with GC aspirations, in 1:21.923, fourth on the stage. Alessandro Petacchi was 3rd on the day, just behind teammate Matteo Tosatto. T-Mobile's Olaf Pollack rounded out the top 5.

Stuart O'Grady's special rig didn't get him the maglia rosa, as he had hoped, but did place him 6th on the stage and overall.

Michael Barry led North Americans in 15th; Discovery teammate Ryder Hesjedal, also of Canada, was 18th; Dave Zabriskie was 20th; Tom Danielson 75th; Tony Cruz 98th; Jason McCartney 113th; and Christian Vande Velde was 152nd.

Defending Giro champ Damiano Cunego was 22nd, while his teammate Gilberto Simoni, the 2003 winner, was 97th on the stage.

Mario Cipollini took a parade lap, starting last in a glow-in-the-dark pink skinsuit that featured the names of all the towns where he won his 42 career Giro stages.

The full top 10:

1) Brett Lancaster, Ceramica Panaria-Navigare, 1:20.9
2) Matteo Tosatto, Fassa Bortolo, at :01
3) Alessandro Petacchi, Fassa Bortolo, at :01
4) Paolo Savoldelli, Discovery Channel, at :01
5) Olaf Pollack, T-Mobile, at :02
6) Stuart O'Grady, Cofidis, at :02
7) Jaan Kirsipuu, Credit Agricole, at :02
8) Mark Renshaw, Francaise des Jeux, at :02
9) Sergio Escobar Roure, Illes Balears, at :02
10) Sven Krauss, Gerolsteiner, at :02


Daily Peloton | Prologue Live Coverage

CyclingNews.com | Live Report | Full Results

Posted by Frank Steele on May 7, 2005 in Alessandro Petacchi, Dave Zabriskie, Giro d'Italia 2005, Mario Cipollini, Stuart O'Grady, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 26, 2005

The Lion King to roar no more

BBC SPORT | Cipollini to bow out of cycling

Mario Cipollini, who holds the record for stage wins at the Giro d'Italia, will retire from cycling. And, this time, it may even stick.

Cipollini retired and unretired in 2002, and said at the end of last season he was done, but raced through the spring with Liquigas-Bianchi, where he pulled off a satisfying victory over his spiritual successor, Alessandro Petacchi, at the Giro di Lucca.

"I would have liked to be at the start of the Giro d'Italia looking for victory again, fighting for the pink jersey," Cipollini said. "Maybe, an ‘old man’ like me, who has given a lot to cycling and has also received a lot, has to recognize when is the right moment to stop.

Over a 17-year career, Cipollini won 12 Tour de France stages and wore the yellow jersey for 6 days, despite dropping out every year when the race hit the mountains.

There's also this enigmatic bit from the AFP story on Cipo's retirement:

The Liquigas team announced that Cipollini, nicknamed the "Lion King" would reveal further details of why he has decided to retire at a press conference in Milan on Friday.

At left, Cipollini far from his native habitat, laboring up Brasstown Bald at the 2004 Tour de Georgia.

It's starting to feel like a generational shift, with Cipo's retirement, Lance Armstrong's announced retirement, and Andrea Tafi's retirement.


cyclingnews.com | First Edition Cycling News: Cipollini retires, Farewells to Cipo

gazzetta.it | Cipollini's palmares (in Italian)

nytimes.com | Cipollini Suffers Angst of Long-Distance Rider

Samuel Abt offers a profile of Cipollini facing the onrushing dusk of retirement last year.

TdFBlog's Mario Cipollini archive

Posted by Frank Steele on April 26, 2005 in Mario Cipollini, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 31, 2005

Armstrong testifies in Simeoni case

Eurosport | Armstrong answers Simeoni charges

Lance Armstrong flew to Italy on Wednesday to meet with an Italian magistrate about the Filippo Simeoni case. Prosecutors are investigating whether Armstrong verbally assaulted or slandered Simeoni after Simeoni testified against Michele Ferrari in his doping trial. Ferrari was convicted last year.

Armstrong had worked closely with Ferrari before the doping case against him was launched, then broke off the relationship.

At last year's Tour, Armstrong chased down a break that included Simeoni, then told the group that he would let it escape only if Simeoni was not involved.

La Gazzetta dello Sport reports that magistrates are investigating whether Armstrong asked Mario Cippollini to pressure his Domina Vacanze management to get teammate Simeoni removed from the team. That accusation apparently comes from Vincenzo Santoni, still managing Simeoni while Cippollini moved on to Liquigas-Bianchi.

Simeoni also has a libel suit pending against Armstrong in France, stemming from Armstrong calling Simeoni "a compulsive liar" and saying Simeoni had been doping before he ever hooked up with Ferrari.

Posted by Frank Steele on March 31, 2005 in Doping, Lance Armstrong, Mario Cipollini, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 09, 2005

Petacchi takes Stage 1 at Tirreno-Adriatico

procycling | Petacchi takes Tirreno opener

After coming third in the Tour of Lucca last week, Alessandro Petacchi showed he's in remarkable early-season shape, beating Bernard Eisel of Francaise des Jeux and Robbie McEwen of Davitamon-Lotto for the stage win and first leader's jersey of Tirreno-Adriatico.

Mario Cipollini, who beat Petacchi at Lucca, was dropped on the last climb and reportedly "complained of breathing problems at the finish."

Also in the day's top 10 were Oscar Freire, Thor Hushovd, and Paride Grillo.

Tomorrow's stage has an uphill finish into Tivoli.

Posted by Frank Steele on March 9, 2005 in Alessandro Petacchi, Mario Cipollini, Tirreno-Adriatico '05 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 08, 2005

Tirreno-Adriatico set to kick off

cyclingnews.com | Sprinters galore in 40th Tirreno-Adriatico

If you're wondering where the superstars of racing are, and why they're not at Paris-Nice, it's because they're in sunny Italy, readying for the 2nd race of the ProTour, which kicks off tomorrow in Civitavecchia.

Most of the world's best sprinters are on hand, including both Mario Cipollini and Alessandro Petacchi, Stuart O'Grady, Erik Zabel, Robbie McEwen, Oscar Freire, and Paolo Bettini, last year's winner.

We'll get a look at Joseba Beloki, who's back on a Spanish squad with Liberty Seguros, T-Mobile's Andreas Klöden, CSC's Ivan Basso, and Discovery's George Hincapie.

Tirreno-Adriatico runs seven stages, and most of these riders will also contest Milan-San Remo a week from Saturday.


Cycling4all.com | official startlist

Daily Peloton | Tirreno-Adriatico Preview

Posted by Frank Steele on March 8, 2005 in Alessandro Petacchi, Andreas Klöden, Erik Zabel, George Hincapie, Ivan Basso, Joseba Beloki, Mario Cipollini, Oscar Freire, Paolo Bettini, Robbie McEwen, Stuart O'Grady, Tirreno-Adriatico '05 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 07, 2005

Cipollini beats Petacchi

cyclingnews.com | Cipollini triumphs in Altopascio

It's been a long time coming, but the Lion King roared again today, as Mario Cipollini outsprinted heir apparent Alessandro Petacchi at the Giro di Lucca.

Cipollini, now with Liquigas-Bianchi, has retired and unretired a few times already, but he showed great early season form, staying at the front when the field split, leaving Petacchi with only one teammate, rather than the long blue express train that has dropped him at the finish line of so many stage victories over the last few years.

Petacchi has 8 wins this season, and Monday was his first loss in a heads-up sprint in 2005, as he finished behind Cipollini and Paride Grillo.

Posted by Frank Steele on March 7, 2005 in Alessandro Petacchi, Mario Cipollini | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 09, 2004

Petacchi, Cipollini withdraw from Tour

BBC SPORT | Top Italians quit Tour

Alessandro Petacchi and Mario Cipollini have both withdrawn from the 2004 Tour.

Petacchi won 4 stages in 2003, and 9 stages in this year's Giro d'Italia, but hadn't figured in a finishing sprint yet this year, and hurt his shoulder in a crash during Thursday's 5th stage.

Cipollini blames his withdrawal on the injury that took him out of the Giro. Super Mario has never finished a Tour in 8 starts with 12 stage victories.

Update: Alasdair Fotheringham of The Independent provides details of the Italian sprinters' medical conditions:

A crash early on in the race had re-opened a major wound in Cipollini's shin - caused when he skidded across the road in a similarly lethal finale in the Giro - and gravel infected the inside of the wound. The pain proved too much for Cipollini, and Petacchi, suffering from torn ligaments from a crash on Wednesday, opted to join his fellow-Italian on a flight back to Milan from Paris.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 9, 2004 in Alessandro Petacchi, Mario Cipollini, Top Stories, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 02, 2004

Cipollini handicaps sprinters' chances

procycling | ‘Father’ Cipo prepares for Petacchi

Mario Cipollini was, for a time, the best sprinter in the world. "Super" Mario has 12 stage wins in the Tour, and a record 42 stage wins at the Giro d'Italia. This year was the first time Cipollini was shut out at the Giro, as a bad crash knocked him out early.

Cipollini's crown has been challenged by Alessandro Petacchi, who had an amazing Giro, winning 9 stages this year alone. Cipollini hasn't ridden the Tour in 5 years, while Petacchi won 4 stages of last year's Tour.

Cipollini is marking Petacchi, Tom Boonen, and Erik Zabel in the sprints.

Petacchi, for his part, is downplaying his chances at multiple sprint wins, and pooh-poohing the overall green jersey competition:

“It doesn’t really interest me,” said the Fassa Bortolo sprinter in his pre-Tour press conference. “I want to concentrate on getting stage victories. It might surprise but my aim is the very reasonable goal of a stage win during the first week. I won’t be thinking about any more than that initially. If I was thinking about the green jersey from the start I would then have to dispute the intermediate sprints, which would be a sure way of missing out on what really counts, the last sprint of the day.”

The Tour will be the first head-to-head meeting between Petacchi, and Belgium's Tom Boonen, who has 13 victories so far this season.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 2, 2004 in Alessandro Petacchi, Mario Cipollini, Tour '04 Previews | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 21, 2004

Super Mario not feeling so super for Tour

Procycling | Cipollini back with a win and hope for the Tour

Mario Cipollini says he'll go into the Tour de France with little more than hope for "a couple of situations where it all falls into place."

Cipollini, who dropped out of the Giro after a Stage 7 fall, said "My aim is to win at least one stage. The green jersey is not an objective. I’ll take it one day at a time,” and as much as admitted he doesn't plan to ride into Paris with the peloton, but will exit when the roads turn steep.

“This is not an ideal situation. I had an almost three-week-long break after the Giro and I clearly lack race days. I’ll be going to the Tour not knowing how my form is. I hope there’ll be a couple of situations where it all falls into place, but hope is the best I can do.”

Cipollini is 37 and clearly nearing the end of his career, but where will we turn for drama when he's gone?

Posted by Frank Steele on June 21, 2004 in Mario Cipollini, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 05, 2004

Cipollini not retiring, will ride Tour

Eurosport.com | Cipo to ride the Tour

At a press conference Saturday, Cipollini announced that, despite earlier threats, he will be riding in this year's Tour de France.

"I want to be competitive at the Tour and I'm working to get fit again," Cipollini said at his first media conference since retiring from the Giro on May 15.

"After my crash at the Giro d'Italia I didn't ride my bike for two weeks but now I'm training hard again."

Cipollini said he wouldn't set any specific goals, but would be looking to win an early sprinter's stage and to make it all the way to Paris "if I'm riding well."

Cipollini said the chances of his racing at the Athens Olympics rest on his performance in France, but that riding the Olympics is a dream of his.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 5, 2004 in Mario Cipollini | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 23, 2004

Abt on Cipollini 'retirement'

The New York Times | Cipollini Suffers Angst of Long-Distance Rider

Samuel Abt has a story on Mario Cipollini's latest retirement in today's New York Times (free registration required). He goes into the posturing and grandiosity that have made Cipo's career, but even Abt seems uncertain whether Cipollini really means it this time:

"I'm leaving with a sense of incompleteness," Cipollini said. "After all that I've done, it's strange, at 37, to leave with that feeling."

That's Mario, his teammates responded. All he needs to set him right is a victory.

Quoting Cipollini's manager, Vincenzo Santoni:

Cipollini's lifestyle ... was no longer compatible with the team's regimen because he wants to sleep in suites while his teammates share rooms and "fly in business class when the rest of us are in economy."

Santoni said, "We wanted to have a training stage in Sicily, but he insisted on South Africa." (That cost about $82,000.)

"Et cetera," Santoni added, leaving that offense unexplained.

I suppose we'll know between now and July 3rd.

Posted by Frank Steele on May 23, 2004 in Mario Cipollini, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 16, 2004

Cipollini: 'I think that my career ends here'

Eurosport.com | The Tour? I won't go.

Mario Cipollini dropped out of the Giro on Saturday. The Lion King holds the record for Giro stage wins, but hadn't won a stage in this year's Tour of Italy, the first time he's come away empty-handed.

Add in an injury suffered during Wednesday's stage, and 3 stage wins so far by Cipo's heir apparent, Alessandro Petacchi, and it was a little more than Italian cycling's prima ballerina could handle:

"It is possible that my career will stop here. It is difficult to find stimulation. For now, I don't want to think about the Tour de France," Cipollini told reporters.

Of course, Cipo announces retirements like J-Lo announces engagements; this is at least the third I remember.

Procycling.com also has a very good wrap-up of Cipollini's Giro, and his current state.

Posted by Frank Steele on May 16, 2004 in Giro d’Italia, Mario Cipollini | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 26, 2004

TDFBlog on Brasstown Bald


Mrs. TDFBlog and I have never seen a mountain finish before, and decided to try our luck at the Brasstown Bald finish of the Tour de Georgia on Saturday. Traffic was moving surprisingly well until we could see the roadblock near where the 180A spur turns up the mountain, so we found a spot, and started trekking up the mountain.

We got a quarter-mile or so up the side, and came to the 5-km to go banner, where not many people were lining the roadway. Apparently, the people even lazier than us were all congregated near the turnoff, while the people motivated to arrive early (and unencumbered by a 10 a.m. girls 8-and-under soccer game) had caught the shuttle buses to the top.

The car is the official pace car of this year's Tour de Georgia. It's the 2005 Dodge Magnum wagon, and yes, that thing does have a hemi. (With this and all the pictures in this post, you can click for a larger pop-up image).

It turned out we were fairly well-positioned. Late in the stage, Alessio Galletti of Domina Vacanze jumped out to about a 4 minute lead, and took the King of the Mountain points at Hogpen Gap. The final climb of the day was about 20 kilometers, culminating with the 5+ kilometers up to the top. At 5 km to go, Galletti still had his lead (see the picture), but the pack was just down around that bend, about 35 seconds behind, and closing fast.

Next came the motorcycles, and we got a look at the whole story of the race in one picture: working from right to left, we've got Daniel Rincon pacing race leader Lance Armstrong. Just behind him, in green, is Chris Horner of Webcor, who would finish 4th on the day and 3rd in the race. The paired CSC riders are Bobby Julich, who finished 6th at Brasstown Bald and 4th overall and Jens Voigt (2nd on the day and for the race). There's just the hint of an unidentified yellow helmet on Voigt's other side, then Scott Moninger, who was 5th on the climb and 7th overall, and just coming into view, in orange, Cesar Grajales of the Athens-based Jittery Joe's team, who rode away from this group less than a mile later to score the stage win. He finished 6th for the race.

Close behind this group were some of the leaders' seconds: George Hincapie of US Postal, Charles Dionne of Webcor, and King of the Mountains jersey Jason McCartney of HealthNet, all in danger of losing the lead group. They weren't alone, as some very strong riders came through onesy-twosy: Max Sciandri, Pavel Padrnos, Jakob Piil, Antonio Cruz. A lone Barcoworld rider came through just before the ambulance, leading me to think we might seen everyone, but someone along the course said there was still one more group to come.

Sure enough, a team car pulled up about 30 yeards to our right, and out popped the soigneurs for Domina Vacanze, setting up to hand bottles off to their riders. Six or seven minutes behind the stragglers of the lead group, the gruppetto (the laughing group) of about 30 riders came through, with 3 or 4 Domina Vacanze riders angling to get right in front of us. One of them was former world champion Mario Cipollini, who was not enjoying a 20-kilometer climb. Damon Kluck of US Postal was riding alongside.

We were able to get out of there very quickly, since the shuttle buses from the top couldn't even start running until well after the race was over. We took the chance to head over to Athens for Saturday night's Twilight Criterium, celebrating its 25th Anniversary.

During my freshman year (1985-86), I lived on the 4th floor of Reed Hall (right next to Sanford Stadium) with a bike-crazy roommate (I didn't ride then). He had worked in a shop in Atlanta, and somehow invited the Killians Red team, which featured brothers Alan and Frank McCormack, to stay in our TV lounge. Somehow, they accepted. They provided the post-race keg, and my roommate got a jersey out of it.

If you ever have a chance to see it, don't miss it: Thousands of people line a circuit in downtown Athens, and the race almost never takes off before dark, so the riders are flying through under the downtown streetlights.

(I'm posting this Monday morning, but I'm going to move it back to the coverage from Saturday in a couple of days. If you have trouble finding it, that's probably why.)

Posted by Frank Steele on April 26, 2004 in Bobby Julich, Chris Horner, Jens Voigt, Lance Armstrong 2004, Mario Cipollini, Photo galleries, Tour de Georgia | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 25, 2004

Fraser takes Stage 7; Armstrong wins Tour de Georgia

Armstrong wraps up Tour of Georgia as Fraser wins final stage

Lance Armstrong wrapped up the second annual Tour de Georgia Sunday, as the sprinters' teams controlled the pace, and HealthNet's Gord Fraser took his second stage win of the Tour, ahead of Juan José Haedo from Colavito and Mario Cipollini of Domina Vacanze.

Fraser secured the overall sprint jersey by taking first at both intermediate sprints and on the finish line today. Jason McCartney (also of HealthNet-Maxxis) won the King of the Mountains jersey based on his epic ride on Stage 5. Kevin Bouchard-Hall of the TIAA-CREF/USA Cycling team won the under-23 jersey. As they seem to just about everywhere, CSC won the overall team classification.

Mario Cipollini, who appeared to be set up for the sprint today and finished 3rd, didn't show for the presentation, and was fined 200 Swiss francs and his day's winnings for it. Domina Vacanze representatives said Super Mario didn't realize he had finished 3rd, and therefore didn't think he needed to make the presentation.

Posted by Frank Steele on April 25, 2004 in Lance Armstrong 2004, Mario Cipollini, Tour de Georgia | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 15, 2004

Cipollini confirmed for Tour de Georgia

Thursday's EuroFile: Cipo' in Georgia? CVV in Purgatory? Museeuw in retirement

Domina Vacanze announced the former World Champion Mario Cipollini will be on the starting line for the Tour de Georgia, beginning April 20th. Cipollini will be using the race as preparation for the Giro d'Italia, which begins May 8th in Genoa.

Cipollini has more Giro stage wins than anyone else, 42 in all:

"The Tour de Georgia will provide good preparation for me," Cipollini said. "The course is challenging and the race finishes ten days before the start of the Giro (which is) very good timing."

Domina Vacanze also will bring David Clinger, who won a stage of last year's Tour de Georgia.

Posted by Frank Steele on April 15, 2004 in Mario Cipollini | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 02, 2004

Cipollini out of Flanders, Ghent-Wevelgem

Friday's EuroFile: Cipo' pulls out of Flanders

AFP reports that superstar sprinter Mario Cipollini of the Domina Vacanze team will not start Sunday's Tour of Flanders or Wednesday Ghent-Wevelgem, which Cipollini has won three times.

Domina Vacanze officials did not reveal the reason for the 37-year-old Cipollini's withdrawal.

It's easy enough to speculate on the reason.

Posted by Frank Steele on April 2, 2004 in Mario Cipollini | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 20, 2004

Milan-San Remo: Zabel blows it at the line

Procycling.com | Milan-San Remo: Zabel's suicide means glory for Freire

T-Mobile's Erik Zabel, a 6-time Tour green jersey winner and 4-time Milan-San Remo winner, made a rookie mistake on Sunday to blow his chance at a first victory this season, throwing his arms up in triumph before crossing the line, and letting Rabobank's Oscar Freire, world champion in 1999 and 2001, nip him on the finish line.

“I can’t believe it,” Zabel said tonight. “I came round Petacchi and was so sure that I’d won. I raised my arms to celebrate. Then I saw Freire under my right shoulder.”

Zabel adds to a string of second-place finishes this year, with Stuart O'Grady of Cofidis third, and Italian super-sprinter Alessandro Petacchi of Fassa Bortolo relegated to fourth, the first bunch sprint he's lost this year.

Milan-San Remo's length (about 180 miles), and a couple of climbs in the last 20 miles, tend to sap the legs of the specialist sprinters. Mario Cipollini fell off the lead bunch on the penultimate climb, and never rejoined the leaders:

“Mario simply isn’t competitive at the moment,” Cipollini’s team manager Vincenzo Santoni told us. A few metres away the Lion King was keeping his own counsel in the Domina Vacanze team-bus. “At least a ‘campione’ won,” Santoni continued. “Petacchi? It’s one thing to win a sprint after 200km, another thing to do it after nearly 300.”

Other results of note: US Postal's Max van Heeswijk was 5th overall, and George Hincapie of USPS was 13th. Defending Milan-San Remo winner Paolo Bettini, who tried to repeat last year's success with a breakaway attempt on the Poggio, couldn't stay away in a stiff headwind, and finished 8th.


Bike.com | Freire pips Zabel to claim Milan-San Remo

Bike.com quotes Petacchi:

Petacchi made his move with 100 metres to go and Zabel followed suit before overtaking the "disappointed" Italian, who admitted he may have misjudged his final sprint.

"I lost just like I did at Paris-Tours," said the Italian, who last season became the first ever rider to win at least three stages in all the Tours of Italy, France and Spain.

"I had a great team around me and I've let them down. The Cipressa and Poggio (climbs) were raced at a very fast pace and I think I paid for that in the sprint, where my legs just gave out. "I think I probably attacked too early."

On winner Freire:

Freire is now hoping to maintain his lead in the World Cup - with a view to taking the rainbow jersey from two-time defending champion Bettini.

"Last year the World Cup jersey was my main aim, but I couldn't get near it," said Freire who should compete in all ten races this season except for Paris-Roubaix on April 11.

"This time I hope to be able to maintain my run of results until the end (of the competition). I'm likely to meet Bettini a lot along the way, so it's not going to be easy."

Posted by Frank Steele on March 20, 2004 in Alessandro Petacchi, Erik Zabel, Mario Cipollini, Oscar Freire, Paolo Bettini | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 12, 2004

Petacchi: unbeatable at Tirreno-Adriatico

Eurosport | Petacchi scores double

For the second time this season, Alessandro Petacchi has scored back-to-back stage wins, and he's beaten Mario Cipollini in all four of those stages. Naturally, Petacchi leads the overall (since he's won both stages so far). That's likely to change tomorrow, as the race heads into the mountains.

Cipollini still says he'll beat Petacchi, pointing to Milan-San Remo March 20th.

Posted by Frank Steele on March 12, 2004 in Alessandro Petacchi, Mario Cipollini | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 10, 2004

Petacchi takes Tirreno-Adriatico Stage 1

Eurosport | 60th win for Petacchi

Alessandro Petacchi continued his winning ways with a sprint win in Sabaudia, at the finish of the first stage of Tirreno-Adriatico. The win was the 60th of Petacchi's career and the 3rd of the season, joining two wins in February's Tour of Lucca.

In typical style, Petacchi got in a barb at Italy's previous sprint king, Mario Cipollini, while insisting that Cipollini was the farthest thing from his mind:

"You ask me if these wins can affect the morale of Cipollini, but I'd answer you that I'm thinking first of my morale and that of my team-mates. I don't worry about what others are doing," Petacchi told reporters after the race in the small seaside town, 75km south of Rome.

Posted by Frank Steele on March 10, 2004 in Alessandro Petacchi, Mario Cipollini | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

I know who has the better hair...

Daily Peloton | Cipollini and Petacchi: A Curious Comparison

From the Daily Peloton, proof that stat freaks are to be found in other sports than baseball, as Marianne Werz O'Brien breaks out the careers of sprinting superstars Mario Cipollini and Alessandro Petacchi, comparing their records by year and prestige.

Posted by Frank Steele on March 10, 2004 in Alessandro Petacchi, Mario Cipollini | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 25, 2004

Ho-hum: Petacchi again in Lucca

Yahoo! Sport | Petacchi maintains control of Tour of Lucca
The 30-year-old Fassa Bortolo rider crossed the finish line of the 173km second stage ahead of compatriots Fabrizio Guidi and Mario Cipollini.

More complete results are available at DailyPeloton.com.

Posted by Frank Steele on February 25, 2004 in Alessandro Petacchi, Mario Cipollini | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 24, 2004

Petacchi tames lion king in Lucca

Yahoo! Sport | Petacchi strikes first blow in Tour of Lucca

Alessandro Petacchi started his season much as he finished last year. Petacchi, the world’s best sprinter, beat Mario Cipollini at the line to take the first stage of the Tour of Lucca (Cipollini is actually ahead in the picture at left, taken after the riders crossed the line).

Petacchi had 24 victories last year, including 15 in the three major tours (of Spain, Italy and of France), and became the first man to win 3 stages in each of the tours.

Posted by Frank Steele on February 24, 2004 in Alessandro Petacchi, Mario Cipollini | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack