'Ale-Jet' Petacchi announces immediate retirement from cycling

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That's all, that's it.. Alessandro Petacchi has ridden his last race in the professional ranks, ending a career that spanned 17 years and more than 200 victories. (Getty Images)

One of the greatest sprinters of all time, Alessandro Petacchi, has announced his immediate retirement from cycling, ending a 17 year association with the sport.

Having reached the ceiling of 200 victories I feel that I need a change in my life, to find another dimension and also to commit more time to my family.

Petacchi won the sprinters' green jersey at the Tour de France in 2010 and picked up six stage wins in the sport's primary stage race during a 17-year career.

He won a total of 48 stages in the three Grand Tours, including six in the 2003 Giro d'Italia when he succeeded compatriot Mario Cipollini as his country's foremost sprint star.

In that year alone he won an incredible 15 stages at the three grand tours and a year later he claimed a record nine stages during the Giro d'Italia as he also won the points classification jersey.

His other notable successes were winning the Milan-San Remo classic in 2005 and Paris-Tours two years later.

Known as "Ale Jet", Petacchi claimed 22 stage wins in the Giro d'Italia alone, although that would have been more had he not been stripped of five more from the 2007 Giro when he was caught doping.

He was banned for a year in 2008 by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) having tested positive for salbutamol, despite the Italian Cycling Federation originally exonerating him.

Since 2010 he has been riding for the Italian Lampre-Merida team, although his main success came under the colours of Fassa Bortolo and Team Milram.

There is some speculation that the timing of his retirement coincides with the release of documents relating to the Mantova and Padua investigations currently ongoing which implicate several former and current Lampre riders, and a number of high profile Italians from other teams.

Tributes to the Italian came from friends and former rivals alike.

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