In a notice posted on his official website on Tuesday night, Cipollini cites disappointment at his team's nonselection to the Tour de France and lack of recognition from his main sponsors at the Acqua & Sapone cycling team as the reasons for his decision to retire from racing.

Specialized president is as surprised as anyone at Cipo’s quit claim

Cipollini’s agent, Mauro Battaglini, has announced Cipollini will discuss the situation in a press conference on Monday, July 15th.

His website announcement seemed to imply that he would quit immediately, although he is contracted to Acqua & Sapone until the end of 2003.

Specialized has been in contact with both Cipollini and Bataglini, as well as with officials from Acqua & Sapone.

Is it all bluff, with Cipo throwing a tantrum in order to make a news splashes around the world?

Specialized founder and president Mike Sinyard doesn’t know: "All we can say is that discussions between Cipo and the team are ongoing. Mario himself remains cordial, and we look forward to a positive resolution."

Specialized is Official Equipment Supplier to Cipollini’s Acqua & Sapone racing squad, providing the team with S-Works Road framesets, tyres, helmets, saddles, computers, and other products.

Equipment makes up the bulk of Specialized support for the squad, Sinyard said.

"Mario contacted us at the end of last year about using our frames and other equipment for the 2002 and 2003 seasons, and our involvement with the team grew out of that phone call."

The announcement comes at a time when Cipollini is ranked the #1 road cyclist for 2002 by the UCI, and follows his victories at the Milan-San Remo and Gent-Wevelgem classics as well as six stage wins in the Giro d’Italia. Cipollini is also picked by many as a favorite for the World Championships in October.

Tour de France officials said Cipo’s team was not selected for the 2002 race because it was a team of sprinters and lead-out men and would not have managed to finish the whole your.

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