He was still hoping of being given the chance to make it to Paris. He will not make it to Milan either. On Thursday morning Mario Cipollini followed advices from team doctor Nazareno Trobbiani and made the decision not to take the start of stage 12 of the 86th Giro d’Italia and withdraw from the race that saw him beat Alfredo Binda's record of stage wins.
Not a decision making the reigining World Champion happy for sure: Mario Cipollini, two-time stage victor in this edition of the Corsa Rosa, was forced to abandon the race because of the pain he’s still suffering from, after the crash he was involved in during yesterday's leg, in the very last metres of the stage finishing into San Doná di Piave.
At the end of a stage raced under heavy rains, and while trying to take the best position to start his sprint, Spain’s Isaac Gálvez of Kelme-Costa Blanca mistook a turn and fell on the slippery road, taking Cipollini with him. Both riders ended into the barriers, and Cipo heavily hit the asphalt.
After the stage Super Mario was taken to the hospital and underwent x-rays. He didn’t suffer any fracture, but had one injured lumbar vertebra nevertheless, and the pain didn’t stop at all in the following hours. This morning his left shoulder was swollen and, according to Domina Vacanze-Elitron’s Team Manager Antonio Salutini, he could hardly move it. Not exactly the best possible conditions to tackle such a challenging stage like Thursday’s, finishing up to the top of the awful and much talked-about Zoncolan ascent.
"I watched the sprint on TV", said this morning the World Road Champion "and I think Gálvez made a mistake, as taking a turn that way means not realizing the danger there". But the main target criticisms from the Lion King was Moreno Argentin. The former profesional rider and 1986 World Road Champion in Colorado, and a resident of San Dona di Piavé, the town where the finishing line was located, made some statements that his "successor" (16 years later) Cipollini did not appreciate: "What really annoys me is that some former riders talked about the difference between who knows his stuff is situations like yesterday's and who doesn't, as if we don't take enough risks every day," Cipollini was quoted as saying, after Argentin, on Italian TV, and praised McEwen for his skills in sprints on wet roads, but also put the blame for the crash on the riders' "reckless" attitude in such finishes.
More words from Cipollini, who had a special Mountain-bike ready for the last three kms. of the Zoncolan (and for making the headlines one more time) "It's too bad to leave the Giro, notably now that I was finding back the winning form I wanted. In my opinion I would have won in San Doná, as I was in good position and (without the accident) could sit on McEwen's wheels just to come around him in the end."
So see you later, Mario. Hopefully at the next Tour de France as, according to the latest news, there are some chances (even though not many) that TdF boss Jean Marie Leblanc may add a 23rd team to the startlist, similarly to what recently happened in the Vuelta a Espańa: "I'll try to get back on my bike as soon as possible, with the hope that I can race the Tour. Yes, now I really hope I can take part in the French race. If it doesn't happen, then it means cycling has not understood me, and perhaps that the time has come for me to step aside".