Just months after his 39th birthday Alessandro 'Ale-Jet' Petacchi announced he would retire with immediate effect. 'The Gentleman' as he was affectionately called due to his quiet nature and apparent dislike for the hustle and bustle of bunch sprinting, enjoyed a long and prosperous 18-season career and has more than 180 victories to show for it.
The exact number of career wins is something which even Petacchi disputes but the Italian fast-man was undoubtedly one of the fastest of his time. Even in his twilight years he managed to pull-off some of his biggest achievements including winning two stages and the green points classification at the 2010 Tour de France - at the tender age of 36.
The Italian had slowed his winning rate over the past few seasons but managed to still pick up enough results to ensue his passion and desire to continue competing.
The following gallery is a showcase of the man who holds 48 grand tour stage victories, the point classification at the Giro d'Italia (2004), Tour de France (2010) and Vuelta a España (2005) along with victories at Milan San-Remo (2005) and Paris-Tours (2007). Petacchi is not without a few black marks against his name but the now retired sprinter can still look back on a prosperous career that was beyond what he ever expected.
"My career has been full of satisfactions and enriched by all the most important victories that a rider like me could ever have aimed for," said Petacchi in a statement released by his team. "I feel it's time to dedicate time for myself and to go in search for new interests."