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'Little old man' scores first Italian win

Mario Cipollini (Liquigas-Bianchi)

Mario Cipollini (Liquigas-Bianchi) (Image credit: AFP)

Mario Cipollini (Liquigas-Bianchi) has won the fourth stage of the Tour of Qatar in a bunch sprint, thereby scoring the first victory for his team in 2005 and the first win by an Italian this season. The 188th success of the Lion King's career was made against one of the strongest sprinters this season, Tom Boonen from Quick.Step, who had won the first two stages of the race.

"Every win encourages you very much." Cipollini said after the stage. "This one in particular since it comes after months full of sacrifices and very tough training. I believe this is the first and partial answer to the understandable doubts surrounding a 'little old man' like me at the beginning of his seventeenth season as a pro."

Call him what you may, Cipollini had a perfect team preparation for his sprint. "It was a very tight sprint between us, the Liquigas-Bianchi riders, and Boonen’s team," he explained. "Loda and Andriotto performed perfectly until the last kilometre. Then it was Bäckstedt’s and Zanotti’s turn, extraordinary. Boonen moved from the wheel of one of his teammates to Zanotti’s and I found myself behind the Belgian. The ideal condition for a remounting bunch sprint. This win rewards the whole team: we can aim at great results with such a solid squad."

For the full Qatar stage four results, report and photos, click here.

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