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Will the Lion roar again?
 
By Anita van Crey
Date: 5/10/2004
Will the Lion roar again?
 
The old Lion still wants to roar. Mario Cipollini takes in the Domina Vacanze team some helpfull riders along his side through Italy. The train that more than once brought him to the finishline in better than best position came with him. Both Giovanni and Scirea are there. But the name and outfit that draws the attention to the team is most certainly Mario Cipollini. His website tells: Cipollini entered the cycling pro at the end of the 80's and succeded in gaining an important place in the hall of champions due to his outstanding and spectacular victories. Soon he took part to the "Giro D'italia" wearing the "yellow t-shirt" of Del Tongo, that belonged to Saronni. Spectacular sprints, "pink t-shirt" and "ciclamino t-shirt" on his shoulders. He started taking regularly the top places and winning important races. Then he won the "yellow t-shirt" during the "Tour de France" and his nickname became "Cipo", "le beau Mario". He's a smart and handsome man and is often a guest in TV shows and even in fashion shows where he displays the class of a professional model. Cipollini has got an extraordinary personality! After a victory during the "Giro d'Italia", he wore Ronaldo's T-shirt to greet the champion and announce his favourite soccer team. Then the new look, really appreciated. Stars and stripes on the shorts to thank his american sponsor which build his bikes. In other occasion he changes the colour of the shorts to meet the colour of his shirt (pink or yellow). He won 34 stages at the Giro d'Italia, better than Coppi and Merckx. More than 150 victories during his career! And now a new goal: his personal website, a fast way to contact his fans worldwide.

Domina Vacanza Giro roster:
Mario Cipollini (Ita)
Andrus Aug (Est)
Gabriele Colombo (Ita)
Martin Derganc (Slo)
Alessio Galletti (Ita)
Massimo Iannetti (Ita)
Giovanni Lombardi (Ita)
Andris Nauduzs (Lat)
Mario Scirea (Ita)

As it says on the Specialized-website (www.specialized.com ) : Mario Cipollini and his Domina Vacanze teammates are ready to rock – Italian style – as the 87th Giro d'Italia kicks off. The Lion King will be looking to add to his record haul of 42 wins in the Italian grand tour (May 8-30) as Cipollini battles against arch-rival Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo) in what's sure to be one of the highlights of the three-week, 20-stage romp across Italy. "I'm 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." Cipollini has yet to beat Petacchi when the two went head-to-head at the Giro della Lucca in February and Tirreno-Adriatico in March. Flu floored Cipollini's chances at Milan-San Remo, and he retreated to his beloved Tuscan hills to rebound for the Giro.

Fresh off racing in the Tour de Georgia, where the ever-popular Cipollini scored a stage win, Super Mario is ready for full flight at the season's first grand tour. "I see a great battle between the train of Fassa Bortolo and my train," Cipollini continued. "It's a challenge that absolutely inspires me, and it's a challenge that I absolutely want to win." Domina Vacanze comes with a team solely to support Cipollini in the sprints. Renowned as the best set-up train in the business, the team has added some new faces to help deliver the Lion King to the line.

Back are Gabriele Colombo, Martin Derganc, Alessio Galletti, Giovanni Lombardi and Mario Scirea, but newcomers Andrus Aug and Andris Nauduzs will provide fresh power to make sure the train isn't slowed down. Massimo Iannetti, 21, will be making his Giro debut and will test his legs once the roads get steep. Not starting the Giro is GC man Michele Scarponi, fresh off his seventh-place in the Liège-Bastogne-Liège classic on April 25. With Domina Vacanze starting the Tour de France (July 3-25), the rising star is saving his strength for a run at the top 10 at cycling's marquee event. While the team is built around Cipollini, other riders will get their chances when the opportunities arise. Top stage-hunter Lombardi will certainly be looking for a breakaway late in the Giro to make a run for a victory. "We will work for Mario in the first weeks of the Giro to win stages. Maybe in the final week I can get into a breakaway to win one for me," said Lombardi, who said he believes Cipollini is ready to rack up stage victories.

"Mario didn't have the same explosiveness as Petacchi in the early part of the season," said Lombardi, winner of four career Giro stages. "Now I believe Mario can fight on equal ground with Petacchi in the sprints. We are very motivated." The 2004 Giro comes with a balanced 20-stage, 3,435-kilometer course that's deceptively short on summit finishes, but there are still plenty of trademark mountains along the way to keep the mountain goats happy. The 2004 Giro opens May 8 with a 7km opening prologue in the narrow streets of Genova. Cipollini will want to finish as strong as possible to make a run for the maglia rosa using time bonuses in the opening stages. Stage 1 should give Petacchi and Cipollini a chance to thrash one another in the bunch sprints. The Giro has never been shy about adding mountains early into the mix and this year is no exception, with the third stage finishing atop the Corno alle Scale in the Apennines, with ramps as steep as 14 percent.

The next week pushes south toward the heel of Italy's "boot," with some rollercoaster profiles that will require Domina Vacanze to work hard to reel in breakaways. Watch for Cipollini to challenge in Stages 4, 5, and 6, and 8-9 heading into the first of two rest days May 18. In the second half, Stages 10, 12, 14 and 15 all feature profiles favoring a mass gallop. Cipollini and the other sprinters might be tempted to pack it in after that because Stages 16-19 are brutal by any standard, with four unrelenting days in the Dolomites, including climbs at the Cima Coppi at the 2,618-meter Passo di Gavia and the legendary Passo del Mortirolo. Any survivors will roll into Milan for the flat 144-kilometer finale on May 30.

 
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