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by Mark Zalewski
January 19, 2017
In today’s CyclingTips Daily News Digest: Richie Porte attacks to win stage 2 of the Tour Down Under and take overall lead; Four Giro wildcards announced with only two Italian teams; Report into British Cycling culture expected in February; Belgian team for cyclocross World Championships announced; With no team options, Luca Paolini retires; Patrice Ciprelli, husband of Jeannie Longo, back in court for EPO import case; GreenEDGE Cycling to launch Chinese-collaboration Continental team in 2017; Snow blankets team training camps in Spain; Cycling Victoria announces new race and change to oldest event; Highlights: Men’s Santos Tour Down Under, stage 2; Nys shows he still has it while training with team; Video: Team Sunweb; Video: Riding Vertical Walls on a Bike.
Luca Paolini announced his decision to retire from professional cycling a day after he turned 40, saying he could not find a team following the end of his suspension. The Italian tested positive for cocaine from a random anti-doping test during the 2015 Tour de France. Because the UCI determined it was only for recreational use they handed him a reduced ban of 18-months that ended last week.
Luca Paolini winning the 2015 Gent-Wevelgem.
“I trained hard to properly get back on track, but I could not find a team,” Paolini told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “Astana and [Alexander] Vinokourov told me that because of my ban that he could not take me, that made me laugh. I wanted to try my luck with the new team of Bahrain Merida, but Arab culture does not allow mistakes with alcohol and drugs. Still, I continued to believe, but I had to set a deadline, namely the Christmas holidays. Nothing had happened and it left me with a bitter taste.”
Paolini talked about his use of cocaine, resulting out of an addiction to the sleeping medication Benzodiazepine.
“I needed [Benzodiazepine] at night to recover from the physical and mental effort. In the last two to three years, I always used it, at home and at the races. I was dependent. Then came cocaine. It was inevitable for me. I took it when I was alone at a pre-Tour training camp in mid-June. It made me open my eyes to the addiction.”
Paolini, who had wins at the 2013 Giro d’Italia, the 2013 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, and the 2015 Gent-Wevelgem, invested in a cafe across from Lake Como with partners and will turn his focus to that business, as well as expanding into cycling tourism.