A win in a modest Danish event offers the first sign that Mario Cipollini might just make it to the
Mario Cipollini sort of returned to racing on Sunday when he won the Ritter Classic, a tourist race held close to the Danish capital, Copenhagen, writes Susanne Horsdal. It was the Italian’s first competitive appearance since he failed to start stage seven of the Giro d’Italia due to the injuries he sustained in a crash on stage four. Cipollini may have won the event, but the question of whether the sprinter will be firing on all cylinders when the going gets tough in the Tour de France remains open to question. “This is not an ideal situation. I had an almost three-week-long break after the Giro and I clearly lack race days. I’ll be going to the Tour not knowing how my form is. I hope there’ll be a couple of situations where it all falls into place, but hope is the best I can do,” said Cipollini, who had taken a day off from the training camp that he and his Domina Vacanze team are currently enjoying. His next and only real race before the Tour will be the Italian Championships this coming weekend. On top of the uncertainty about his form, Cipollini will be further disadvantaged by the team not being solely built around him. “This year I’ve been in a team with a lot of climbers but I think I’m sufficiently experienced to be able to sneak along. My aim is to win at least one stage. The green jersey is not an objective. I’ll take it one day at a time,” said ‘Super Mario’, who almost in the same breath admitted that making it to Paris is not something he is concerning himself with at the moment. Once again it seems it will be a bad bet to put money on the Lion King making it to the Champs Elyses. What the rest of his season will bring also remains to be seen. “My season was based on the Giro and the Tour. The first aim was shattered, but I haven’t put together a programme for the period after the Tour.” The obvious question of whether that means that the 37-year-old sprint star will be ending his career after the Tour was answered with a smile and a counter-question. “Why don’t you ask me something funny?” The best the press corps could come up with was if he followed the European Football Championships. “I follow the big championships. But otherwise I don’t follow football.” Why not? “Footballers don’t do damn all but they make a lot of money!” Super Mario may be lacking form, but he hasn’t lost his touch.