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Marco Velo (Quick Step) in the peloton
Italian lead-out man looks back on 15 years as a pro
Marco Velo has decided to hang up his bike after this weekend's Giro di Lombardia. The 36-year-old can look back on 15 successful years in the professional peloton, where he mainly worked in the service of other riders.
"It will be a special moment," the Italian told Sporza on Friday. "I've been part of this world ever since my childhood days. An important era comes to an end."
The Quick Step rider, whose name fits so well with the profession he chose, has always been a strong time triallist and lead-out man for some of the very best sprinters like Alessandro Petacchi and Tom Boonen. On top of the satisfaction to contribute to his teammates' victories, he also achieved personal goals during his career.
"I have raced with great champions and achieved some beautiful results myself, like my Italian time trial championship titles," he said.
Velo was national time trial champion three times in a row from 1998 to 2000, before developing his climbing skills and finishing 11th in the Giro d'Italia in 2001.
His role as a lead-out man began in 2002 when he moved to Fassa Bortolo and helped Petacchi during the peak years of his career. "My last two years at Quick Step were really nice, too," he added. "I want to thank everybody for their support. I'd like to give everyone at QuickStep a symbolic hug!"
Velo started his career with Brescialat (1996-1997) and then rode for Mercatone Uno (1998-2001), Fassa Bortolo (2002-2005), Milram (2006-2008) and QuickStep (2009-2010).