Mario Cipollini suggested in an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport that he could be making a return to competitive cycling at the ripe age of 45. The Italian superstar told the sports daily that he wants to ride the Giro d’Italia in May to serve as a lead-out man for Andrea Guardini (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia).
“I want to lead out the sprints for Guardini at the Giro,” Cipollini told La Gazzetta. “I feel good and I have the desire to work extremely hard.
Cipollini retired in 2005 and briefly made a return to competition with the ill-fated Rock Racing outfit during the 2008 Tour of California. That adventure was short-lived and the showboating Italian sprinter has since focused his attentions on promoting his own brand of bike frames, which the Farnese Vini team rides.
Whether the comeback is a publicity stunt or the real deal remains to be seen. Cipollini, who will be 45 later this month, suggested that he is up the challenge.
“I am convinced that someone even at 45 is not to be dismissed as an elite athlete,” he continued. “My weight now is 90kg, that’s eight more than my ideal weight when I was in top shape. I could lose most of it and most of it is muscle mass in my chest and arms.”
Whether the comeback pans out remains to be seen, but Cipollini says he misses the action. Organizers of the Valley First Granfondo Axel Merckx Okanagan this morning announced that Cipollini would take part in the July 8 event in British Columbia, Canada.
“An athlete lives on the intensity that is hard to leave behind,” he said. “I want to be transparent and will be available to all testers.”