By Gregor Brown
Fabio Baldato's long and Illustrious career ended on a low-note in the Eneco Tour. The 40 year-old Italian of Team Lampre crashed 29 kilometres into stage four – fracturing his collarbone and hip – ending an 18-year career earlier than planned.
"It was the idea to end with a great race, like Paris-Tours, but with a fractured hip – requiring a rest of one month – it is not possible," said Lampre's press agent, Andrea Appiani, to Cyclingnews. "Unfortunately, the fourth stage of Eneco Tour was last race of his career. He said, 'I am sorry for myself and also for the team' to end in that manner."
Baldato, from Brendola (Veneto), spent many of his years riding for famed Italian directeur sportif, Giancarlo Ferretti. It was under his guidance that he made his Paris-Roubaix debut, with Team Del Tongo, in 1991. That year he remained at the head of affairs until the last 30 kilometres, there to help team captain Franco Ballerini. Fast forward 17 years, he was at the service of Alessandro Ballan, who finished third in Roubaix's velodrome.
"In the last two years the team has had faith in me; 39 and 40 years-old is a lot for most teams. ... I hope I have repaid them well, by giving my maximum," Baldato said in April.
Baldato's career includes 42 wins – twice second in Ronde van Vlaanderen, three stages wins in the Giro d'Italia, two in the Vuelta a España and two in the Tour de France. His best result in the Roubaix came in 1994, when he finished second, under snowstorms, behind winner Andrei Tchmil.
Baldato's teams: Lampre (2008), Lampre-Fondital (2007), Tenax-Salmilano (2006), Fassa Bortolo (2005), Alessio-Bianchi (2004), Alessio (2003), Fassa Bortolo (2000-2), Ballan-Alessio (1999), Riso Scotti (1998), MG-Technogym (1995-7), GB-MG (1992-4) and Del Tongo (1991).