A native of Sicily, Napolitano turned professional with LPR in 2004 and announced his arrival as a sprinter when he claimed seven victories the following season, which earned him a move to ProTour level with Lampre.
Napolitano’s three-year stint at Lampre was the best period of his career. He placed fifth at Milan-San Remo in 2006, and claimed victory on stage 9 of the 2007 Giro, when he won a bunch sprint ahead of Robbie McEwen and Alessandro Petacchi at Lido di Camaiore.
It was only Napolitano’s second appearance in a Grand Tour, but he would ride just three more in his career. He was competitive in the sprints in the opening week of the 2007 Tour de France only to finish outside the time limit on the first mountain stage, and he abandoned the 2008 Vuelta a España and 2011 Giro.
Napolitano’s results at Lampre earned him a move to the nascent Katusha team in 2009, before he dropped to Pro Continental level with Aqua e Sapone in 2011. The Italian joined Accent-Wanty in 2013 and spent the final five seasons of his career in the team, which has since become Wanty-Groupe Gobert.
The 51st and final win of Napolitano's career came on a stage of Boucles de la Mayenne in 2015. On Wednesday morning, he announced via social media that he had decided to retire from cycling at the age of 36.
"This is a message for all of my fans who have always supported me up to today, but I must announce that 2017 is my final season as a professional cyclist. I'm hanging up my wheels," wrote Napolitano, who described his Giro stage win as “the most beautiful" of his career.
"I participated in all three Grand Tours, where I was always competitive, and I participated in all of the Classics suited to my characteristics, like Paris-Roubaix and Gent-Wevelgem. I'm proud of what I've done. And thanks to those who have supported me.”