By Gregor Brown
Giovanni Lombardi's racing career came to an end this last weekend in Valencia, where he lined up in a criterium with 21 other professionals, including Paolo Bettini and Oscar Pereiro. The Spanish event closed out 14 seasons of racing for the 37 year-old Italian; a career that was launched with Lampre in 1993 after his 1992 Olympic Gold medal in Barcelona. "To see the world, talk with people. I know Spanish and French very well; now I hope to better my English," noted Lombardi of his international experiences during an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport.
Since turning pro, the cyclist, who makes his home in Madrid, has racked up wins all over Europe. Lombardi has 42 wins to his credit, the first was in 1993 in the Settimana Bergamasca, and the other big wins came via four stages in the Giro d'Italia, two in the Vuelta a España and three in the Tour de Suisse.
Lombardi, who started racing at 10 years-old, never thought he would do, "All of the stages in the Tour and Giro." Further adding that the one thing he wishes he had was "a win in Sanremo", but he did have the satisfaction of leading out teammate Mario Cipollini to victory in the 2002 edition of La Classicissima.
The Italian has turned his role from lead-out man to advisor since joining Team CSC, and he will continue in this role by guiding other riders, specifically Ivan Basso the Schleck brothers, Fränk and Andy. "I will try to be near them in their difficult moments, in which all reasons for racing can be understood," concluded Lombardi.
Lombardi's teams: Lampre (1993-1994), Polti (1995-1996), Telekom (1997-2001), Acqua & Sapone (2002), Domina Vacanze (2003-2004), Team CSC (2005-2006).