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Biaggi quits motorcycle racing after four world titles

FOUR-TIME 250cc world champion Max Biaggi has announced his retirement from motorcycle racing.

The 41-year-old Italian, who also won the World Superbike Championship twice, made the announcement at a press conference organised at Rome's Vallelunga circuit, where he began his career.

Quoted in the Corriere dello Sport, Biaggi said: "I've chosen to quit and, unlike others, it's not because of physical issues or because I haven't found a competitive bike.

"I've turned down a contract with Aprilia that was identical to the one I had this year, with the same bike, for the same money.

"I believe I've missed enough time with my children and my partner already, and I think it's right that I dedicate myself to them because time flies and I can't stop that.

"I'm not some old politician, attached to my chair, it's only fair that I make way for the youngsters."

This morning, Biaggi pre-empted his media briefing by taking to his official Twitter account.

He tweeted: "It is a new dawn for me today, nothing will be like it was before. Onwards and upwards, though!"

Known as 'The Roman Emperor', Biaggi rode his first grand prix season at the age of 20 in 1992, winning 29 races and four straight titles in the quarter-litre category with Aprilia and Honda.

Biaggi's rivalry with countryman Valentino Rossi raised the popularity of the premier 500cc category from 1998, as the two Italians beckoned in the MotoGP era.

Forced to sit out the whole 2006 season as Dani Pedrosa took his position, Biaggi soon switched to the World Superbike Championship and won on his debut in Qatar, for Alstare Suzuki.

Biaggi returned to Aprilia to claim a single win in 2009, before taking his first WSBK title in 2010 and wrestling the crown back from Carlos Checa at Magny-Cours last month.

The search is now on for a new team-mate for Aprilia's Eugene Laverty, with the 2013 season starting at Phillip Island in February.