Tafi sets February deadline to find a team for Paris-Roubaix

52-year-old Italian still holding out hope for 20th anniversary return

Andrea Tafi has set a deadline of early February to find a team for his Paris-Roubaix comeback.

The 52-year-old Italian hasn’t raced since his retirement after the 2005 edition of the ‘Hell of the North’, but announced in October 2018 that he was looking to rejoin the professional ranks for the 2019 edition, the 20th anniversary of his victory there. 

"In the first week of February I want clarity," he said in an interview with Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad. “I can’t say anything about it yet.”

Tafi, who raced his final Roubaix in Saunier-Duval colours, headed up a Mapei-Quick Step podium sweep in 1999, and remains as motivated as he was when he was a pro.

"This is not a joke, but a real goal," he said. "I train as hard as [I did] in my professional years. I hope to appear at the [race] start."

Since his retirement, Tafi has continued to race at Masters level, and told La Gazzetta dello Sport back in October that he rides 18,000km a year. Last year, he contacted the UCI in order to be added to the anti-doping control pool, a necessary step for any potential comeback attempt.

Tafi is said to have reached out to a number of Professional Continental teams who might participate, while last November he was linked to African WorldTour squad Dimension Data. The team’s head of performance Rolf Aldag was quick to shut down those links, though.

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