Farnese Vini-Selle Italia manager Luca Scinto has moved quickly to quell any notion that Mario Cipollini will return to racing with his team. The 44-year-old Cipollini told Gazzetta dello Sport on Tuesday that he was planning to make a comeback to the professional peloton and serve as Andrea Guardini’s lead-out man at the Giro d’Italia.
Given that Cipollini would need to be part of the out of competition dope testing pool for six months prior to any return to action, his dream of riding the Giro this year already appeared to be just that, but Scinto ruled out the possibility of Cipollini arriving at his team at any juncture.
“What do you want me to say? For me it’s a bolt from the blue, I really didn’t know anything about it and I don’t like it,” Scinto told Tuttobiciweb. “I respect Cipollini as a champion and a man and I always will, but this really seems like a joke to me. What can I say, as long as I’m in charge of this team we won’t talk about it.”
Scinto believes Cipollini’s statement was simply a bid to whip up publicity for his MCipollini brand of frames. Cipollini recently used the pages of Gazzetta dello Sport to present Riccardo Riccò with one of his bikes, when he advised the troubled rider to forget about returning to professional cycling.
Scinto is also keen that his protégé Andrea Guardini is allowed to continue his development without undue exterior pressure, and the media circus surrounding a Cipollini comeback would scarcely help the youngster enjoy a low-key Giro debut in May.
“If he wants to do a nice marketing ploy, then he’s succeeded in part, but cycling isn’t only special effects and marketing,” Scinto said. “What can I tell you? The team is full and there is no place for Mario. The boys don’t need him, far less Guardini, who is a very promising lad, but who needs to grow with calm and without distractions.”
Cipollini first hung up his wheels in 2005, explaining that he realised his time was up during the finale of that year’s Milan-San Remo, won by Alessandro Petacchi. Three years later, however, Cipollini was back in the saddle, competing for Rock Racing at the Tour of California before parting company with Michael Ball’s team.
Scinto was a contemporary of Cipollini’s in the professional peloton in the 1990s, and he expressed his hope that his fellow Tuscan would finally stop raging against the dying of the light and give up on any lingering hopes of reliving past glories.
“Mario was a real great, but he’s had his time. And it’s right that he acknowledges that calmly himself. He is a very intelligent and sensitive person. If he reflects a bit, he too will understand that today was only a provocation, and I consider it as such.”