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“If I don’t find an employment contract, I’ll quit,” the 40-year-old Petacchi said. “I’ll dedicate myself to my family. It’s been weighing on me already to be traveling all the time.”

Photo: Sirotti

ALESSANDRO PETACCHI

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ANDREA PALINI

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DAVIDE VIGANO

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ENRICO GASPAROTTO

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PAOLO LONGO BORGHINI

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VALERIO AGNOLI

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14.11.2014 @ 07:01 Posted by Aleksandra Górska

With both Euskaltel and Vacansoleil folding by the end of last year, a situation on the transfer market was extremely unfavourable for professional riders, forcing many of them to step down at least one level or to prematurely call it a career. With the infamous Fernando Alonso Cycling Team again turning into nothing, Cannondale merging with Garmin-Sharp and other squads gradually reducing their rosters to meet the UCI regulations, it doesn’t look any more promising than twelve months ago and apparently mature Italian cyclists are casualties.

 

As we have informed several days ago, Alessandro Petacchi, confirmed to leave Omega Pharma- Quick Step, remains rather relaxed about his situation despite not having a signed a contract for 2015.

 

“If I don’t find an employment contract, I’ll quit,” the 40-year-old Petacchi told Italy’s Tutto Bici website. “I’ll dedicate myself to my family. It’s been weighing on me already to be traveling all the time.”

 

However, the 40-year old sprinter reportedly still have several options, with Pro Continental level Neri Sottoli and Cofidis being rumored. Petacchi admitted that he would enjoy a job of a lead-out man and mentor for some younger sprinter and either Jakub Mareczko or Nacer Bouhanni would certainly benefit from his rich experience.

 

“I’d still like to race because that doesn’t weigh on me. I like it a lot, but I want to make myself available to developing young riders and being closer to my wife and my six-year-old son Alessandro,” added Petacchi. “I hope to find a team that works well for me.”

 

Another experienced Italian expected to step down to Pro Continental level is Enrico Gasparotto. Despite his strong performances in one-day races, especially Ardennes classics, the 32-year old is forced to leave Astana as the Kazakh team turn their focus exclusively to Grand Tour events. In his case, Wanty-Groupe Gobert is suggested as most probable destination.

 

Another Astana’s Italian, Valerio Agnoli, shared Gasparotto’s fate and his friendship with Vincenzo Nibali couldn’t make a difference, nor could his selfless work in the 2013 and 2014 editions of the Giro d’Italia.

 

“Gasparotto rode well in the Ardennes Classics, he was the first Italian finisher at times, he won the Amstel Gold Race, but we want to focus on the grand tours,” Astana’s team manager Giuseppe Martinelli told Italy’s Ciclo Web. “Unfortunately, we had to sacrifice some riders.”

 

“Agnoli remained friends with Vincenzo, but with the sports directors, the balance was lost. Maybe he gave less than what we had expected, or maybe we just expected too much from him.”

 

Obviously, Petacchi, Gasparotto and Agnoli only lead a crop of Italians still remaining without contracts for 2015, followed by the likes of Paolo Longo Borghini (Cannondale), Andrea Palini (Lampre-Merida), Davide Vigano (Caja Rural) and Luca Dodi (Lampre-Merida).

All are expected to step down to Pro Continental level, with Vigano – eager to ring with a WorldTour squad – being the only exception. Most of them have already come up with some kind of “B plans”: according to VeloNews Longo Borghini considers becoming Pilates instructor while Dodi is eager to continue his education at the University.

 

“I’ll get another job or start studying again,” Dodi, 27, told Tutto Bici. Like Damiano Cunego, he may study sports science. “Even if I have the chance to race, I’ll continue with my plan of returning to school.”

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