Cipollini and Petacchi abandon

On a day likely to end in a sprint, two of the peloton's very best finishers have decided to call it

On a day likely to end in a sprint, two of the peloton's very best finishers have decided to call it
PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE Mario Cipollini and Alessandro Petacchi have both pulled out of the Tour this morning because of injuries. Cipollini has barely featured in what has been his first visit to the Tour for five years, and he has withdrawn suffering from a leg infection that has developed following the crash that put him out of the Giro. It remains to be seen whether yesterday's stage through a downpour to Chartres will turn out to be the 37-year-old Italian's final Tour appearance. If so, a heavy fall and a finish in which he did not feature were not the best way to remember a Tour career during which Cipollini has won 12 stages and brought both himself and the race huge publicity. Petacchi, though, should be back next year despite his lack of achievement this week. Winner of four stages during the first week of the 2003 Tour, the Italian has not really figured in the sprints at all this year and a heavy crash yesterday has resulted in the decision to head home. X-rays revealed Petacchi had not suffered a break in or around his shoulder as had been feared, but the Italian is unable to lift his arm and decided to put a disappointing few days behind him.

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