Following initial reports that former World Champion Mario Cipollini is in talks with the US squad Rock & Republic, the Italian's lawyer categorically denied that his client is fancying a return to racing. For Cipollini to come back to the peloton at age 41, and race for a domestic squad in a foreign country – one which specializes in criteriums and sports a brash, tattooed rock star image complete with Cadillac Escalades as team cars – certainly sounds unbelievable, but team director Frankie Andreu assured Cyclingnews that the story is no joke.
"The fact that Cipollini has been in talks with the team is absolutely true," Andreu said on Saturday. "Whether or not he's going to return to racing, I don't know. But he, [team manager] Haldane Morris and [Rock & Republic owner] Michael Ball met in Los Angeles and even went on a ride together."
Morris declined to comment, deferring to Ball, who could not be reached for comment.