Former professional Mario Cipollini will be making a guest appearance at the 2019 Tour Down Under in January, appearing at both the Legends' Night Dinner and the Challenge Tour, where he'll ride with cycling enthusiasts during the mass-participation event.
The self-styled playboy retired – for a second time – in 2008 following an 18-year pro career that included 42 Giro d'Italia stage wins, 12 Tour de France stage wins and a year in the rainbow jersey as winner of the 2002 World Championship road race.
He never raced the Tour Down Under, but said on the race's website, tourdownunder.com.au, that he was looking forward to his trip in the new year.
"Australian cycling fans are passionate about this sport and I know have supported me from afar throughout my career, on and off the bike," Cipollini said. "There will be lots of opportunities for me to meet the fans and share my stories about life in the peloton.
"I will be riding the Challenge Tour so expect to have company, and I may even pack a special skinsuit for the occasion," he said, referring to his flamboyant personality that saw him fined on multiple occasions by race organisers for not wearing his regulation team kit.
The 51-year-old Italian rode for a number of teams during his long career, including Mercatone Uno, Saeco and Liquigas, with the latter his last team before he first retired at the end of 2005.
However, he returned to race for US Continental team Rock Racing in 2008, although his comeback was short-lived, and he retired for good in April that same year having only raced the Tour of California.
Cipollini will ride the Challenge Tour on January 19 in Adelaide, South Australia, and then will be honoured at the Legends' Night Dinner that evening.
"We know the fans will be eagerly awaiting his arrival and can't wait to hear from him firsthand about life in the peloton and how it feels to have claimed so many Grand Tour stage wins," said Tour Down Under race director Mike Turtur.
Van der Poel reveals unconventional race-day diet
Dutch cyclo-cross star Mathieu van der Poel recently revealed some surprising diet choices on Dutch TV show Over Eten – 'About Food' – on the Eén channel, bringing hope to less athletic cyclists the world over.
The 23-year-old European cyclo-cross champion explained how his pre-race meal – eaten three hours before he competes – consists of pasta with ham, cheese and tomato ketchup.
"I don't eat much on race day, as I prefer having an empty stomach before a 'cross, as I'm making a huge effort right from the gun," Van der Poel explained on the show. "In a road race, you need reserves, but not in cyclo-cross.
"I add a lot of salt to my food, especially when it's hot," he said. "And when it's really hot, in a stage race, I have extra salt."
During an hour-long 'cross race, Van der Poel will drink just half a litre of energy drink, regularly taking a sip throughout the race.
Then it's time for the all-important post-race meal, which, with a number of cyclo-cross races taking place in Belgium, often includes chips – French fries, with tomato ketchup again.
Asked by the show's host whether he'd be even faster if he didn't eat fries, the young Corendon-Circus rider's clearly not about to try changing his winning recipe: "Maybe. Maybe not," he smiled.
4 Jours de Dunkerque organisers unveil 2019 route
The organisers of French stage race the 4 Jours de Dunkerque – the Four Days of Dunkirk – have announced the route of the 2019 race, ranked 2.HC, which takes place in May.
The misleadingly titled race is run over six days, starting next year in Dunkirk on May 14 and finishing back in the northern French town, on the border with Belgium, on May 19.
Stage 2 starts in Wallers – home to the famous Troué d'Arenberg cobbled sector of Paris-Roubaix – and the 'Hell of the North' connection is continued both the next day, when stage 3 finishes in Compiègne, some 80km north-east of Paris, where Paris-Roubaix starts each April, and on the final day, when stage 6 starts in Roubaix and heads back to Dunkirk for the finish.
The German sprinter won two stages along the way, winning solo on stage 5 from a breakaway group that included Claeys, and the move was enough for the Belgian to take the race lead on the penultimate day, with Greipel unable to overhaul him on the final stage.
2019 4 Jours de Dunkerque route:
Tuesday, May 14, 2019, Stage 1: Dunkirk to Condé sur l'Escaut, 180.7km
Wednesday, May 15, 2019, Stage 2: Wallers to Saint Quentin, 181.6km
Thursday, May 16, 2019, Stage 3: Laon to Compiègne, 156.5km
Friday, May 17, 2019, Stage 4: Fort Mahon Plage to Le Portel, 184.9km
Saturday, May 18, 2019, Stage 5: Gravelines to Cassel, 181.5km
Sunday, May 19, 2019, Stage 6: Roubaix to Dunkirk, 174.1km