Mario Cipollini is on a plane and heading to California after apparently sorting out his licence and contract with the Rock Racing team just 48 hours before the start of the Tour of California.

Cipollini has always refused to confirm he would make his much trumpeted return to racing at the Tour of California but Cycling Weekly understands that almost all of the licence and contract problems have been resolved and so Cipollini jumped on a plane early on Friday morning that will see him arrive in Palo Alto near San Francisco just two days before Sunday?s 3.4km prologue.

The late departure will mean Cipollini will have little time to get over jet lag and the long trip will surely leave him struggling in the prologue. Cipollini will be 41 on March 22 and has not raced since Milan-San Remo in 2005, but if the reports that he has been training hard all winter are true, he could even pull off a surprise in the first road stage to Santa Rosa on Monday.

What odds on Cipo beating Tom Boonen to win the stage? Place your bets in the cyclingweekly.co.uk forum.

There will be full coverage of Cipollini?s comeback, news on the British riders at the Tour of California and full race coverage here on cyclingweekly.co.uk.

RELATED LINKS
Tour of California 2008: race preview