Alessandro Petacchi has announced his retirement and confirmed that his abandon on the penultimate stage of the Giro d’Italia last month was the final act of a professional cycling career that began in 1996.
Petacchi was originally pencilled in to ride the Vuelta a Venezuela for his Southeast team but he did not make the trip to South America and told Italian website Tuttobici that he had decided not to race any longer.
“I’m still not well. I haven’t managed to shake off the virus that put me out of the Giro d’Italia on the Colle delle Finestre so it wasn’t right to take on a trip like that if I wasn’t going to be able to put in an honourable performance,” he said. “I’m still Alessandro Petacchi after all.”
The 41-year-old Petacchi previously retired briefly in April 2013 when riding for Lampre, only to return with Omega Pharma-QuickStep as part of Mark Cavendish’s lead-out train the following August. He confirmed that there would be no second thoughts this time out.
“I haven’t been on a bike since June 9 and if you want to know everything, I’ve already hung it in the garage with the wheels off,” Petacchi said. “I won’t go out on the bike for a while, because I feel tired and without motivation. For the first time in my life, I feel sick of it, I really want to take a break mentally. In life there are moments when you feel clearly what you have to do. My moment has probably arrived now.”
For the time being, Petacchi said that his sporting endeavors will be limited to the occasional tennis match, and he added that he had no intention of saying a more formal farewell to cycling by racing again before the end of the season.
“No, my farewell was at the Giro,” he said. “I put my foot on the ground on the Colle delle Finestre and then the day after, on the stage to Milan, [RAI television presenter] Alessandra [De Stefano] allowed me to say my goodbyes on the stage of the Processo alla Tappa show. That was an especially sad day for me, full of emotions, and one that I’ll always carry in my heart.”
Petacchi won 22 stages of the Giro d’Italia during a turbulent career, including the startling haul of nine at the 2004 cora rosa, though he was stripped of five more following his positive test for Salbutamol at the 2007 edition of the race.
The Italian won six stages at the Tour de France and claimed the green jersey in 2010, and claimed 20 at the Vuelta a España. His finest hour came when he won Milan-San Remo in 2005, and he added Paris-Tour to his palmarès two years later.
Petacchi began his career with Scrigno and discovered his calling as a sprinter under Giancarlo Ferretti at Fassa Bortolo. He went on to ride for Milram, LPR, Lampre and Omega Pharma-QuickStep, where he claimed his final win, the Grand Prix Pino Cerami last year, before signing for Southeast in January 2015.
“I raced a lot, I won a lot, and now I don’t really want to keep riding without objectives,” Petacchi said. “Now I know that’s right to do what I’ve decided to do, and I’m doing it without regrets.”