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Domina Vacanze-Elitron Team Presentation
By Staff
Date: 2/5/2004
Domina Vacanze-Elitron Team Presentation

This year there were no dancing girls, no camels, no exotic trips to Sharm El Sheik along the Red Sea in Egypt. Instead, this weekend's Domina Vacanze team presentation was an elegant, understated affair at the luxurious Villa Norella along the shores of Lake Como in northern Italy, designed to underscore the serious business of bicycle racing.

Mario Cipollini and his 24 fellow teammates were officially introduced as the team is chomping at the bit to kick-start the 2004 racing season. Dressed in a white turtle-neck and casual slacks, had the Lion King lost some of his trademark glamour? Not a chance. As always, the 2002 world champion was the center of attention. 

"I have worked hard in the sun of South Africa to prepare for the season," said the tan and fit-looking Cipollini. "I love the adrenaline of racing. Last season was not how I had hoped. I am motivated to make a strong season and show everyone who the world's best sprinter is."

Courtesy Specialized.

There's no lack of motivation at Domina Vacanze this season. Cipollini will enjoy a fortified "train" to catapult him to victory in the sprints while Michele Scarponi will continue his upward trajectory in the Giro d'Italia and such classics as Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

"I've been a professional team manager now for nine years, and I know this is the most important season I've faced," said Domina Vacanze team manager Vincenzo Santoni. "I have confidence in our 25 riders and I see Cipollini particularly motivated."

Specialized bikes played a starring role as well, with Cipollini and Co. happily posing with their red and white S-Works E5 AEROTEC frames. Mario and the rest of the team will ride the stock frames while S-Works Tarmac, Roubaix and other prototypes will be used on a case-by-case basis. The entire team will race with Specialized helmets and several riders, including Cipollini, will use Specialized shoes.

The Specialized S-Works E5 Aerotec

Super Mario Relishing Showdown With Petacchi

Cipollini can't hold back his eagerness to face new archrival Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo), who stole the spotlight last season with a record four or more stage victories in each of cycling's grand tours.

"Even though everybody considers Alessandro Petacchi the best sprinter in the world just because he had one great season, I can't wait to take him on and show I'm back," Cipollini said.

The Petacchi-Cipollini duel should be one of the highlights of the 2004 season. While the pair might see each other at early-season races such as Tirreno-Adriatico, the first serious battle will be Milan-San Remo on March 20. Cipollini won the "Classicissima" in 2002 and Petacchi has already said it's his top goal of the spring season.

"I'm still looking forward to a challenge with Petacchi," Cipollini said. "Last year was a tough year for me, and I really want to show what kind of rider I am."

"The adrenaline of the competition is my life, I feel I live only for this I don't know when I will retire, I must now think of this season to ransom a 2003 that did not go like I wanted. Certainly that I wanted to make the Olympics, but technically it seems impossible. I have thought, I have been regenerated, now I quiver thinking of the first races. I don't know when the first competiton with Petacchi will be; they tell me it could be the Giro della Provincia di Lucca, but those that will count indeed will be Giro d'Italia and, first, Milan-Sanremo. I have worked a lot, I have worked well; it will be a big season," Cipollini promises.

Cipollini, of course, boasts cycling's most potent and experienced train. There's nothing more spectacular than watching the "zebras" move to the front and hammer the pace over the final kilometers before catapulting Super Mario to the finish line.

Cipollini can count on the steady hand of experienced pros Mario Scirea and Gabriele Colombo. While last year's set-up man Giovanni Lombardi won't be back, Cipollini is reunited with Gian-Matteo Fagnini. The 33-year-old Fagnini was Cipo's favorite set-up man during his run in the 1990s before Fagnini joined German ace sprinter Erik Zabel at Telekom.

"I'm happy to be back here," Fagnini said. "It should be a good challenge." Il Re Leone's first race will be the GP degli Etruschi this Sunday, February 8th.

The Cipollini-Petacchi duel will be even more heated during the Giro d'Italia (May 8-30), when the two Italian powerhouses face off for the maglia rosa and stage wins.

"I see a great battle between the train of Fassa Bortolo and my train. It's a challenge that absolutely inspires me and it's a challenge that I absolutely want to win," Cipollini said.

Courtesy Specialized.

Cipollini Wants the Tour

Cipollini is hopeful the Tour de France will grant him an appearance after the disappointment of being overlooked last year while he was wearing the world champion's rainbow jersey.

"I'm convinced I can still win stages in the Tour de France, and I think I deserve a place in this year's race as a kind of lifetime achievement award," Cipollini said. "I don't know how much chance we've got, but Domina Vacanze boss Ernesto Preatoni and I are going to do everything we can to convince the Tour de France director Jean Marie Leblanc to give us a place."

Regardless of the Tour, there's good news for Domina Vacanze as the team has received one of 18 invitations to participate in all 10 rounds of this year's World Cup events. Guaranteed invitation clears the way for Cipollini at Milan - San Remo and Michele Scarponi at Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

The other 17 teams to be pre-selected include: Ag2r-Prévoyance, Alessio-Bianchi, Cofidis, Team CSC, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Fassa Bortolo,, Gerolsteiner, Illes Balears-Banesto, Lampre, Liberty Seguros, Phonak, Quick.Step-Davitamon, Rabobank, Saeco, T-Mobile and the U.S. Postal Service.

Thanks to Specialized and Domina Vacanze-Elitron - Specialized is a company founded by riders for riders. Stay with through the season for frequent updates, exclusive photos, interviews, know...other cool stuff!

The 2004 Domina Vacanze - Elitron Team

Mario Cipollini (Italy)
Valerio Agnoli (Italy)
Massimo Giunti (Italy)
Andrus Aug (Estonia)
Massimo Iannetti (Italy)
Alexander Bajenov (Russia)
Tim Jones (Zimbabwe)
Lorenzo Cardellini (Italy)
Alexander Kolobnev (Russia)
David Clinger (USA)
Sergio Marinangeli (Italy)
Gabriele Colombo (Italy)
Massimiliano Mori (Italy)
Martin Derganc (Slovenia)
Andris Naudusz (Latvia)
Gian Matteo Fagnini (Italy)
Michele Scarponi (Italy)
Francesco Failli (Italy)
Mario Scirea (Italy)
Antonio Murillo Fisher (Brazil)
Francesco Secchiari (Italy)
Alessio Galletti (Italy)
Filippo Simeoni (Italy)
Massimiliano Gentili (Italy)
Paolo Valoti (Italy)

Courtesy Domina Vacanze-Elitron.

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