Mario Cipollini makes a return to the peloton
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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Cipollini makes a return to the peloton

by VeloNation Press at 10:42 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling

While there has been no official announcement yet, it looks like sprinting legend Mario Cipollini will be making a return to the peloton with the Italian ISD team in 2010, only this time his incarnation may be taking on the form of carbon fiber.

In 2009 the ISD squad rode successfully on bikes made by the American company Specialized, but it seems that their off season shuffle to secure Alberto Contador may have opened the door for Sprint King Mario Cipollini to introduce his line of bikes to the professional peloton.

Late last year's move by Specialized to sponsor the defending Tour de France champion and his Astana team opened the door for Belgium's top team to put themselves on board Eddy Merckx machines. Now, it's likely that a similar swap has been made further south, as Cipollini looks to gain mainstream recognition for his bikes.

Interestingly enough, when Cipollini made his return to racing at 41 years old, he was riding an aluminum frame that was said to be made by Italian Simone Carlesso. Carlesso built many of Cipollini's bikes before he retired from cycling for the first time.

Last September the two were seen together at Eurobike where the equipment manufacturer had its limited edition OZ 499 wheels on display, which they claim are aerodynamically superior to others. The project is a joint project between alloy wheel manufacturer OZ and Carlesso. The Italian sprinter received one of the first sets, according to Carlesso, but it's highly unlikely the ultralight wheels will make their way into the peloton.

Cipollini started working with the Italian team as as a consultant last season, so his involvement with sponsoring the squad would not come as a surprise.

The Tuscan is arguably the best sprinter the peloton has ever seen.  Even after a three year retirement, the man from Lucca was able land on the podium in stage 3 of the 2008 Tour of California, a stage that was won by Belgian Tom Boonen.  The then 41-year-old came in third behind Heinrich Haussler finishing one place ahead of today's Sprint King Mark Cavendish.


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