You almost have to check that it’s not 1 April with this morning’s news that Mario Cipollini is talking of a comeback in order to help young sprinter Andrea Guardini in the Giro. Nevermind that Cipollini is 45, nor that he’s weighing 90 kilo – no flab, extra muscle we are assured – there’s a simple reason why he can’t ride the Giro this year: the UCI rulebook.
I like Cipollini, his flamboyant personality and supreme sprint style makes it harder to write this but I am only relaying the existing rules. Here’s Article 84 of the UCI’s Anti-Doping code (my emphasis):
A Rider who has given notice of retirement from cycling to the UCI and wants to return to competition at international level shall notify the UCI at least 6 (six) months in advance. The Rider shall be included in the Registered Testing Pool and may not resume competing at international level until after a period of four months for which he has provided whereabouts information and during which he has been available for unannounced Out-of-Competition Testing. For each Missed Test during the period that the Rider has to provide whereabouts information before resuming competition, this period will be extended with one month.
So it’s game over for Super Mario’s comeback unless he secretly notified the UCI several months ago and has been subject to the Whereabouts testing regime. One hope for Cipollini is a precedent set when Lance Armstrong announced his comeback somehow the above rule was curiously waived by the UCI since the Texan did not give the full six months’ notice prior to starting the Tour Down Under in 2009.
Otherwise this looks like a good stunt by a man famous for his time in the limelight.