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'Vinokourov told me that with the ban I had, he could not hire me... that made me laugh'

Jack Elton-Walters
19 Jan 2017

Luca Paolini is moving on after his ban for cocaine with the purchase of a cafe near Lake Como

Luca Paolini has stepped away from professional cycling and will instead run a coffee shop on the shores of Lake Como. The rider was subject to an 18-month ban after testing positive for cocaine, which expired on 10th January.

Paolini tested positive for the recreational drug during the 2015 Tour de France and had been expected to return to the peloton once he was free to compete.

The 40-year-old spoke to La Gazzetta dello Sport at home in Italy and showed that a lack of team was the main reason for his retirement. 

'I trained hard, I was back in form,' said Paolini. 'I found closed doors. At team Astana, Vinokourov told me that with the ban that I had, he could not hire me. Coming from him that made me laugh.

'I would’ve liked to race with Bahrain, but the Arab culture is such that they don’t accept the minimum error when it comes to alcohol and drugs.' 

With no team willing to take him on by the time of his self-imposed deadline, the Italian called time on his career. 

'Cycling remains in my life,' Paolini said as he looks to the future. 'It’s just that I will no longer take part in competitive cycling.' 

Working for much of his career as a domestique, he was instrumental in the victories of his team leaders at Katusha before his ban. Even so, given his chances he normally took them.

A memorable recent win came at the 2015 Ghent-Wevelgem when Paolini sprung a surprise attack on the group of favourites and went away to take the win, while the rest of the lead group proceeded to look at one another. 

The establishment that Paolini has purchased, along with three partners, is Caffè Monti where Il Lombardia has finished in recent years. 

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