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Last Updated: Friday, 27 February, 2004, 15:12 GMT
Cipollini lands Tour place
Mario Cipollini
Cipollini has notched up 185 sprint victories in the last 15 years
Italian sprinter Mario Cipollini will return to the Tour de France this year after his Domina Vacanze team were given a wild card on Friday.

Cipollini has missed cycling's premier race for the past two years because his team has failed to qualify.

But Domina Vacanze have been invited along with Lotto, AG2R, Brioches la Boulangere, Credit Agricole, RAGT-Rover and Phonak.

Fourteen teams had already qualified in accordance with their world rankings.

Organisers have left open the possibility for a 22nd team to be added to the list at a later date ahead of the 3-25 July race.

Cipollini's ommission last year - the Tour's centenary celebration - was greeted with anger in Italy.

He was the reigning world champion and in 1999 became the first rider since 1930 to win four successive stages of the Tour.

France will have six teams in the race, Italy four, Spain three, Belgium and Germany two each, while Switzerland, Denmark, the Nertherlands and United States will all have one team.

Cipollini seeks Tour place
30 Jan 04  |  Cycling
Cipollini hit with fine
23 Dec 03  |  Cycling
Cipollini's team demoted
09 Jan 04  |  Cycling
Cipollini denied Tour reprieve
02 Jun 03  |  Cycling

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