Tafi to bid farewell

Tafi to bid farewell
By Reuters

09/04/2005 at 16:53Updated

Italy's Andrea Tafi will ride his last major race in Paris-Roubaix on Sunday before retiring after 16 seasons in the peloton. "I'm sad. I had decided a long time ago that Paris-Roubaix would be my last race but the closer it gets the sadder I feel," he told reporters on Saturday.

Tafi, crowned in the Queen of classics in 1999, also won four other World Cup one-day races -- the Tour of Flanders in 2002, Paris-Tours in 2000, the Tour of Lombardy in 1996 and the Rochester classic in 1997.

His 1999 Paris-Roubaix win came a year after finishing second behind Franco Ballerini and three years after being forced to finish third when his team Mapei decided to let Belgian Johan Museeuw win the most prestigious classic in the sport.

"Of the five World Cup victories I've won, this was the most beautiful. It changed my career, gave me prestige and fame," said Tafi, who was also Italian champion in 1998.

Tafi, 39 in a month, said he would fly to the U.S. next week to take part in the Tour of Georgia and fulfil his sponsoring obligations.

He added he might take part in the Giro d'Italia prologue as a lap of honour because it takes place in his home village of Lamporecchio.

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