Cipollini signs up with Katusha to coach its sprinters
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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Cipollini signs up with Katusha to coach its sprinters

by Shane Stokes at 11:38 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
No mention as yet of role working with compatriot Filippo Pozzato

Mario CipolliniThe 2002 world champion and one of the fastest riders in the history of the sport, Mario Cipollini, has signed a contract with Team Katusha and will work closely with its young Russian sprinters.

The Russian team has announced that the 43 year old Italian will train the riders on the ProTour/ProTeam, Continental and Under 23/Under 21 squads, seeking to improve them physically, mentally and tactically.

Team president Andrei Tchmil believes that the multiple Grand Tour stage winner will make a significant contribution to the team.

“Our organization is becoming more and more structured: the experience of a former World Champion can’t be anything but useful,” he stated. “Everybody knew his ability as a sprinter when he used to race, so I think his experience will prove to be of great value. He will be the master of the young, talented riders of our Global Project.”

Cipollini turned pro with Del Tongo in 1989 and, over the course of a seventeen-year pro career, took some of the biggest wins in the sport. He clocked up a staggering 42 stage wins in the Giro d’Italia, won the points competition on three occasions, scooped a dozen stages in the Tour de France, three in the Vuelta a España, snagged Gent Wevelgem on three occasions and won Milan-San Remo in 2002. Later that year, he won the world road race championships in Zolder, beating Robbie McEwen (Australia) and Erik Zabel (Germany).

He retired in 2005 but made a brief comeback in 2008 with the Rock Racing team. However that arrangement didn’t work out and he hung up his racing wheels once more.

One month ago Tchmil said that he was considering bringing Cipollini on board, although it was initially thought that he would work with another rider, Filippo Pozzato.

“Pozzato has so much talent but he lacks something,” Tchmil told La Gazzetta dello Sport at the time. “You could call it grinta. I am sick when I see what opportunities he has squandered.

“Actually, Pippo needs a rider like myself or Museeuw in the team; someone who could pull his ears. We are considering hiring Mario Cipollini to be a mentor or adviser to give Pozzato better support.”

Today’s announcement didn’t mention the Italian, who has earned a reputation as someone who follows wheels rather than dominates races. Cipollini’s new role doesn’t rule out the possibility that he might also work with his countryman, although that remains to be confirmed.

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