Italian sprinter Alessandro Petacchi retires at 41 years old, leaving an impressive career behind him

Italy’s best sprinter over the last decade, Alessandro Petacchi (Southeast) retired today after last competing in the Giro d’Italia at 41 years old.

“I’m still not well after a virus knocked me out in the Giro d’Italia,” Petacchi told Italy’s Tutto Bici website.

“To tell the truth, I haven’t touched my bike since June 9 when I hung it up in the garage from the ceiling with the rest of the bikes without wheels.”

Alessandro Petacchi in action during Stage 4 of the 2015 Tour of Langkawi

Alessandro Petacchi in action during Stage 4 of the 2015 Tour of Langkawi

Petacchi retired once before briefly before returning to help lead out Mark Cavendish in team Omega Pharma-QuickStep through 2014.

This season, he joined team Southeast and raced through the Giro d’Italia, where he has won 22 stages throughout his career.

Petacchi counts six stages in the Tour de France, where in 2010 he won the green points jerseys. In the Spanish grand tour, the Vuelta a España, he has won 20 times.

The 2005 Milan-San Remo remains one of his most cherished prizes in his trophy cabinet. He also won one-day races Scheldeprijs and Paris-Tours.

Petacchi last won in Belgium’s Grand Prix Cerami one year ago in Omega Pharma’s colours.

The dark spot on his career remains his doping positive for asthma drug Salbutamol, and suspension that took away five of his Giro stage wins.

The Giro, where he had so much success, offered a bitter-sweet end. Suffering from a virus, he had to pull out of the race with one day remaining on May 30.

“That was my good-bye, when I put my foot down on the Colle delle Finestre,” he said.

“I raced a lot, I won a lot. Now, I don’t want to pedal without a goal. I feel like the moment finally arrived. I’ll stop without regrets.

Petacchi added that he will keep busy with his family and his baby boy, Alessandro Junior. “And if I have to do some sport, I’ll dedicate myself to tennis. I have the desire to do something else.”

Video: Mark Cavendish on the 2015 Tour de France