Franco Pellizotti: “I want to ride the Giro in 2012”
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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Franco Pellizotti: “I want to ride the Giro in 2012”

by Ben Atkins at 10:43 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia, Doping
 
Suspended Italian looking for a team; ban expires two days before Italian tour

franco pellizottiFranco Pellizotti is looking for a new team for when his two-year suspension ends on May 2nd of next year, and is hoping to ride the Giro d’Italia, which starts just three days later. The Italian ‘Dolphin’ was one of the most high-profile cases to be prosecuted by using his Biological Passport, which, although he did not actually test positive for any banned substances, indicated their likely use.

Pellizotti was pulled out of the Liquigas-Doimo team on the eve of the 2010 Giro, when it was reported that the International Cycling Union (UCI) was looking into his apparently suspicious passport figures. He was initially cleared by the Italian Cycling Federation (FCI), but was banned after the UCI appealed to the Court for Arbitration in Sport (CAS).

The standard two-year suspension was applied, with its start date backdated to the day he was first pulled out of racing. The 33-year-old Italian [he will be 34 when his ban expires – ed] is now looking forward to his return and is hoping to find a team that will allow him to ride his home Tour.

“I’ve spoken with some teams, but I have not come to an agreement with anyone,” the Dolphin told his local newspaper, la Tribuna di Treviso. “But I'm ready and I’ve never stopped training; my suspension ends almost on the eve of the Giro and I'll be ready. I think I have suffered unfair treatment, especially when compared with that of some big names, but I’m still young, healthy and in love with the bike.

“Whoever wants me – and has a serious project – should come forward," he added.

One of the teams that he has spoken to is Italian Professional Continental team Acqua & Sapone, but he concedes that there may not be room alongside its existing veteran.

“There has, indeed, been a conversation with Bruno Cenghialta,” he said. “Certainly Acqua & Sapone this year will have Stefano Garzelli, who also did well last year. We have not reached any agreement, even if the door remains open.”

Which ever team he does manage to negotiate with though, the 2012 Giro d’Italia is a big priority for Pellizotti, which could preclude a deal with Continental team Miche-Guerciotti, which has offered a route back into the sport for those returning from suspension like Michael Rasmussen, Stefan Schumacher and Davide Rebellin.

“But seriously, having seen the route of the Giro next year; beautiful and with some stages suited to me, I'd like to go to a team that makes it to the Giro and wants to take from me,” he explained. “I would give maximum commitment and results.”

Pellizotti feels extra hard done by since, as well as being suspended between May 2010 and May 2012, he has been stripped of all results since May 2009; this includes a second place in the Giro d’Italia (elevated from third after the disqualification of Danilo Di Luca), and the mountains jersey of the Tour de France.

With two years away from the sport he concedes that he might have trouble with the speed of an immediate return to one of the biggest races in the World.

“I know, because of this absurd and heavy sentence, that I miss the pace of racing,” he admitted, “but I’ve continued to do my job well without a team. And I'm certainly interested in working: I don’t live on my past glories and certainly my mortgage still needs paying.”

Earlier this year, with the CAS case still pending, Pellizotti was linked to a possible move to the Movistar team if he was to escape punishment. With Spanish star Alejandro Valverde returning from his own two-year ban this now seems unlikely, and, with teams of controversial returning riders being denied invitations to the Giro, he might find his search is a difficult one.

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