The Re-Birth of Mario Cipollini
The re-birth of Mario Cipollini continued apace today as he snatched yet another victory to add to his already crowded palmeres for 2002 in the 213km long stage from Verviers to Alzette. Atrocious weather conditions kept the peloton together throughout the day and, with Cipo only five victories away from taking the all time record for Giro stage wins, the finish was never a contest.
There are several factors behind the resurgence of the flamboyant Italian. The move from Saeco to Aqua & Sapone must be looked at as a supreme coup for Mario. Firstly, in that Saeco were getting a little antsy for Cipo’s liking, insisting on results, refusing to pay fines for his outlandish attire and worst of all (rumour has it) insisting he took his turn on the front once or twice in training. Secondly however, that rather fetching zebra striped kit must have made Cipo think he’d died and gone to Tour sign-in heaven. Imagine the scene on the Champs- Elysees, had A&S been invited, as the Commissar looks up “Ah Cipollini, wrong clothes again? 1000 Euros please” and the look on his face as Mario replies “Not this time officer!” As far as the ups and downs of his relationship with the Societie de Tour De France go, this must have seemed the perfect move.
– By Philip Malcolm –
Super Mario himself insists that his recent run of, frankly, amazing form including a much coveted victory in Milan- San Remo and a win in Ghent-Wewelgem which saw him move to get across to a breakaway, an action which to put it lightly caused some surprise, to “Training harder than ever over the winter” and slightly more in character “Cutting down sex to three times a week”. Whatever the reasons however, Mario Cipollini is back to his best and this can only be good for the sport in the era of the uber-professional, not too sure about Sundays tiger print ensemble though.