Despite news reports to the contrary, 17-year veteran Stefano Zanini has announced that after a recurring injury and no contract renewal from his 2007 team, Predictor-Lotto, that he is still motivated to return to the peloton for an eighteenth season in the 2008. Zanini spoke with Cyclingnews' Kirsten Robbins about his uncertain future while looking back on the supportive cycling community that lead to the most successful moments in his career.
Stefano 'Zazà' Zanini turned professional in 1991, and since then, the rider from Varese, Italy has become recognized as one of the most successful cyclists on the European circuit. Having been on the most renowned teams of the past two decades, including a six-year term with the former Mapei squad, the 38 year-old has taken home nearly thirty victories including one World Cup and stages in both the Tour de France and Giro d' Italia.
After his current team, Predictor-Lotto, did not renew his contract and some nagging injuries resurfaced, the likeable Italian had thoughts of retirement. But Zanini confirmed that his manager is in negotiations with several teams for 2008 and that he is capable of offering matchless experience and strength to whatever team he should sign a contract. (Read Zanini wants to continue for more information.)
Zanini's palmarès have been running a bit dry as of late – his last victory was a stage in the 2004 Tour of Britain, but this skilled Italian assures us that he has a clear idea of when he wants to retire, and it is not now. "I always wanted to finish my career when I no longer reach the good level that I used to be and even though I had no victories in the last two years, I am highly motivated and competitive and I'm able to do the work that the team asked me to do," Zanini said.
Should he decide not to compete in 2008 it will be because a suitable contract did not present itself. In that case, he may be loaded down with the same annual race schedule but under a new position, if granted his post race career dream. "If I had the opportunity to be the director of a team next year, I would accept that," said Zanini. "I have spoken with Predictor-Lotto about becoming apart of the staff but nothing has been decided yet because the team's administration needs to figure out if there is a spot available with in the team budget."