Petacchi retires from pro cycling at age 39

Italian won 48 grand tour stages during his professional racing career that started in 1996

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PARIS (AFP) — Italian sprinter Alessandro Petacchi on Tuesday announced his retirement from professional racing at the age of 39.

“Having reached the ceiling of 200 victories I feel that I need a change in my life, to find another dimension and also to commit more time to my family,” Petacchi said.

Petacchi won the sprinters’ green jersey at the 2010 Tour de France and picked up six stage wins in the sport’s primary stage race during a 17-year career.

He won a total of 48 stages in the grand tours, including six in the 2003 Giro d’Italia when he succeeded compatriot Mario Cipollini as his country’s foremost sprinter.

In that year alone, Petacchi won an incredible 15 stages at the three grand tours and a year later he claimed a record nine stages during the Giro d’Italia en route to winning the points classification jersey.

His other notable successes were winning Milan-Sanremo in 2005 and Paris-Tours two years later.

Known as “Ale Jet,” Petacchi claimed 22 stage wins in the Giro, although the number would have been higher had he not been stripped of five from the 2007 edition of the race when he was caught doping.

He was banned for a year in 2008 by the Court of Arbitration for Sport after testing positive for salbutamol, despite the Italian Cycling Federation originally exonerating him.

Since 2010, Petacchi has been riding for the Italian Lampre team, although his main success came under the colors of Fassa Bortolo and Team Milram.

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