Cycling: Cipollini quits Giro after win

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The Independent Online
MARIO CIPOLLINI'S powerful kick was too much for two of his fellow countrymen yesterday as he earned his fourth stage win of this year's Tour of Italy and the 29th of his career. The world's best sprinter then retired from the race, his work done.

Cipollini broke away from Matteo Tosatto and Dario Pieri with 50 yards left of the 131-mile 17th stage from Lumezzane to Castelfranco Veneto. Minutes after winning, Cipollini said he and his team, Saeco, had decided beforehand he would withdraw from the Giro following yesterday's stage.

Cipollini, who completed the mostly flat route in 5 hours, 42 minutes and 49 seconds, said: "My Giro ends here. I need to prepare for the Tour de France and the world championships, and the final stages won't help me."

Marco Pantani and his chief challenger for final victory, Laurent Jalabert, finished in the main pack, meaning there was no significant change in the standings.

Yesterday the main group reeled in two pacemakers who had broken away with 38 miles remaining and stayed in front for more than 25 miles.

With five stages to go in the Giro, Pantani leads Italy's Paolo Savoldelli by 2:05, with the former top-ranked Jalabert another second back. Ivan Gotti, the 1997 winner, is 2:33 behind.

"Tomorrow I have to work very hard. I hope I don't lose a lot of time before we head to the mountains," Pantani said.

"Both Jalabert and Gotti are dangerous, so I'm worried because I'm not riding at my best."

n Andreas Kappes took yesterday's fifth stage of the Tour of Germany while fellow German Jens Heppner seized the overall lead. Kappes won the final sprint in a group of 15 riders at the end of the day's 132-mile ride from Dortmund to Koblez. Another German, Christian Wegmann, was second and France's Emmanuel Magnien third.

Heppner finished in the leading group to take the race leader's yellow jersey from Belgium's Axel Merckx, who crossed the line with the pack over four minutes later to drop out of contention.