Mario Cipollini (Liquigas-Bianchi) returned to racing today after three weeks off the bike and roared loud to grab his second win of the 2005 season, beating neo-pro sprinter Paride Grillo (Panaria-Navigare) and Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo), the one sprinter who has bedeviled Cipo for the last two season. After a magnificent victory salute to notch his 189th career win in Altopascio, Cipollini said, "My win is really thanks to the serenity I've found at the Liquigas-Bianchi team. They've given me the possibility to race without a lot of pressure, with the ideal psychological and technical conditions."
Cipollini further explained how he put together his win today, saying, "The last man in the train was supposed to be Backstedt, but he had a flat. So we decided to make the race against Petacchi's team. My teammates brought me perfectly to the last kilometer and from then on, I just marked my man Alessandro. Velo and Petacchi lead into the last corner with 500m. to go. I jumped early and got a two bike length lead on Petacchi which I held to the finish line."
"I'm very surprised I won but I'm also very happy," said Cipollini. "People keep telling me I'm too old to win at 38 but I'm enjoying proving them wrong."
With Tirreno-Adriatico starting the day after tomorrow, Cipollini explained that he's looking further ahead. "My real thoughts are already for Milano-Sanremo. That's my first, real objective of the season. If I can get over il Poggio in good position, I may be a factor there.
"In the last few weeks I've been training hard for Milano-SanRemo and I think my form is pretty good. I needed to see if I'm still competitive with the other sprinters and I think I got the answer I was looking for."