Game over for Super Mario?

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.

24 thoughts on “Game over for Super Mario?”

  1. He acting weird recently. A visit to Ricco recently to give him advice on life and raising kids plus a bike to ride on….a Cippollini I believe. He is way too an interesting read in the Gazzetta to have to pull stunts like these, but maybe sales ain’t good, maybe he needs go big time and have them built in China, lets hope not. He is doing a good thing with his company. He speaks his mind always and he stays well tuned to current events in cycling. Anyway, he’s the disco ball hanging from the ceiling in the press room. The man rocks! Keep it up Mario!

  2. My memory is that Lance DID give the required notice. It was this notification that led to the leaking of his comeback plan in advance of “official” announcements.
    Could be wrong, would be worth checking this again.

    Armstrong’s August 1 enrolment would fall two weeks short of six months prior to the January 18 start of the Tour Down Under, preventing him from competing if the UCI were to take a strict interpretation of the rules. Armstrong said he is confused about the UCI’s inconsistent application of this rule. “When it comes to sport, you always have rules, and we’re not asking for any exceptions. But they don’t always apply this rule. We all remember Mario Cipollini coming back at the Tour of California this year. This rule did not apply to him.”

    The guys are just playing ping-pong. Comeback 3.0 is not far.

  4. I’d love to see Cipo in action, as I am a big fan of his flamboyance. However, for his own sake, he should just stay retired (comebacks don’t work too well for anyone, ranging from Gretzky to Michael Jordan to Pharmstrong to Schumacher).

  5. I don’t mind Mario either, indeed he did so much for rider fashion that we have to thank him. However, he’s had his time in the sun. Times have changed, best to be left wondering ‘what if’ (again) rather than knowing.

  6. Mario is planning to help Guardini, but his comeback will most def overshadow any win the young lad may score .

    Basta Mario, hai avuto il tuo tempo.

  7. Are those white chainrings on Cipo’s RB1000 made by Osymetric, Rotor? They don’t look quite round. Of course, white chainrings may not be very practical, but they certainly look cool. If you know the image source please share, thank you.

  8. This is just the Lion King being the Lion King; chances are he won’t have to back up what comes out of his mouth with his legs/lungs. It also proves my theory behind why Cipo’s last comeback with Rock Racing didn’t work out; there wasn’t even enough room in the ultra large Cadillac Escalade Team Cars for both his and Michael Ball’s egos.

    The UCI aside, a really interesting response would be from Farnese Vini – Selle Italia’s management. Could this be a case of sponsor bullying? Even if the UCI would allow him back fr the Giro, is the team at their roster limit? If so, which young rider would then announce his sudden retirement (a la Vino/Kireyev)? And would a team sacrifice an existing resource (who may already be delivering Guardini to victories) for someone who consistently abandoned Grand Tours despite all of his boasting of making it to the finish? Maybe the publicity is worth it to them…

  9. What a character! The Lion King’s always good for some interesting quotes and headlines but he’s too smart to put anything out there requiring credibility. The rumors were he blew his knee out skiing and even with Rock Racing was only a shadow of his former self, pedaling with essentially one leg. But he got paid to essentially promote his own bike brand with the scheme and I think Ball more than met his match when it came to fast-talking guys who had the money out of your bank account before you even knew what happened! The old lion will roar now and then, just to make sure the young ones don’t forget him. I think he’s pretty harmless these days – but he can still fill out a suit well, whether it’s an Armani or made of lycra.

  10. Pathetic!

    I do not share your admiration for him, a posturing Italian “cyclist”! Never one of the great characters – or real performers, in my opinion.

    Good luck to him, at 90 kilos – extra muscle, my a***! Is he confusing weight-lifting with riding a bike, or what?

  11. Phil – “a posturing Italian “cyclist”! Never one of the great characters – or real performers, in my opinion.”

    Perhaps you and I followed a different era of cycling. To quote wikipedia, “…is a retired Italian professional road cyclist most noted for his sprinting ability, the longevity of his dominance (his first pro win came in 1989, his last in 2005; 191 victories in all)”

    Right – 191 victories. In case that didn’t register, more wins in the Giro than anyone else ever.
    More wins than Bettini, Alberto Contador, Lance Armstrong, Fausto Coppi, Djamolidine Abduzhaparov, & Pantani.
    Zabel has a few more, but not if we exclude track…

    Even if he weren’t famous for winning throughout his career, he’d be remembered for how outsized his character was. He was at all points in time doing something outlandish, many of my memories of the Giro weren’t about the racing, but about what stunts Cippo would get up to.

    So, come again…. “not a great character – or real performer”?

  12. maybe he has no real intention of returning to the sport, but was trying to motivate the team to perform well at the giro in a typically italian gift-wrap style!

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