Almost 38 but still looking like a young Italian stud, Mario Cipollini stands proud and tall, and above all, he is not hiding his ambitions. Cipollini has got his sights set on repeating his 2002 victory in Milan-San Remo: "I'm dreaming about sprinting for the win," the Liquigas rider was quoted in the Belgian press as saying.
"The day Milan-San Remo is ridden, I'm a different person. For an Italian rider, La Primavera is what the Tour of Flanders is for a Belgian. It's culture, emotion. If I win on the Via Roma, tears will be in my eyes.
"I'm not looking at the competition, Boonen, Freire, Petacchi, McEwen... I've beaten them all before. My incentive is called Cipollini. I want to prove I'm still up to it after two quiet seasons."
Although Cipollini the showman will always be there, the Lion King said that he has renewed focus this year, as he has already proven by winning the Giro di Lucca. "I love a bit of colour in life. Without those stunts, life would get too boring. Now I'm looking at cycling in a more philosophical way. I'm still racing because of my love for the bike, but my family has become more important. My youngest daughter asked me why Petacchi is always the fastest now. When I won the race in Lucca, she took the trophy with her to kindergarten, she was so proud of her dad."