"I feel it’s time to dedicate time for myself and to go in search for new interests," Petacchi said in the message.
"My career has been full of satisfactions and enriched by all the most important victories that a rider like me could ever have aimed for. At the threshold of 200 victories in my career, I feel my life reaches a particular moment, a turning point, in which I perceive the need to find a new dimension and to have more time to dedicate to my family. These considerations conclude me to the decision to pause my career."
Petacchi turned professional in 1996, riding for Scrigno until joining Fassa Bortolo in 2000. He went on to ride for Team Milram, LPR Brakes-Ballan and Lampre-Farnese Vini. His career took off in 2003 when he won six stages at the Giro d'Italia, four stages at the Tour de France and five stages at the Vuelta a España. He won a record-breaking nine stages in the 2004 Giro d'Italia, took Milan-San Remo in 2005 and the green points jersey at the 2010 Tour de France.
Petacchi tested positive for Salbutamol at the 2007 Giro d'Italia. He claimed he suffered from asthma and had a TUE (Therapy Use Exemption) certificate but the value measured in his sample exceeded the then limit for the drug. He was cleared by the Italian Olympic Committee but was banned by the Court for Arbitration for Sport. The Swiss-based court accepted that Petacchi had not intended to cheat but suggested he had not shown sufficient caution when using his asthma inhaler. However, his results from after October 2007 - when he raced again - were cancelled.
In 2010 Petacchi was also caught up in a doping investigation by Italian police in Padova, that also involved his close friend and former teammate Lorenzo Bernucci. He was accused of using PFC and human serum albumin but nothing further was heard about the investigation after Petacchi was questioned by the Italian Olympic Committee's anti-doping investigators.
Petacchi was a powerful sprinter but was quiet and reserved. He loved animals and had a parrot at home, using a webcam and an mobile phone to ensure it was okay while he was away at races.
Petacchi never loved the Belgian Classics but signed off by riding Paris-Roubaix for just the second time in his career.
“Paris-Roubaix closed an early part of the season in which I raced a lot, trying to be a protagonist in traditional appointments, such as Milano-Sanremo, and in competitions for me less usual like Paris-Roubaix," Petacchi said.
"I approached all these races in the whole professional way, driven by the enthusiasm that the Galbusera family and the new sponsors gave to the team. I’m aware I gave my best, as I always did in the 18 seasons as professional cyclist. I always put first the professional side of my job, honoring the efforts made by sponsors, such as Lampre, Merida and all the other partners of the team: I really thank them for the trust they gave me in these marvelous years.
"I want to say goodbye to all the cycling fans, considering that maybe there will be the chance to come back some day to be part of the world that gave me so much, offering my experience to the new cycling generations. I’d like to thank the team, the sponsors, the management, the staff and athletes and everyone that supported me during my career, confirming by now my availability to support, when necessary, my mates and the team with advice and my experience."