Riccò claims he’s signed with Quick Step, Belgian team denies deal has been finalised
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Friday, August 13, 2010

Riccò claims he’s signed with Quick Step, Belgian team denies deal has been finalised

by Conal Andrews at 8:06 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Italian looks set to move to ProTour squad

Riccardo RiccoOne day after his previous Ceramica Flaminia squad disclosed that it had ended its association with Riccardo Riccò, the Italian climber has said that he has reached an agreement with one of Belgium’s top teams.

"I signed up with Quick-Step through 2011,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “I am convinced that I've made the right choice. It is one of the greatest teams and allows me back into the top races.”

He added that he hoped to ride the Vuelta a España, but VeloNation has received confirmation from the Vuelta organisers that he will be unable to do so as his name was not on the provisional list of entrants [see separate story].

Riccò’s claim that he has joined the team has been denied, however. Quick Step spokesman Alessandro Tegner said that it was premature to say that things had been finanised. “There’s nothing official,” he told Sporza.

The Italian announced yesterday that he had quit the Ceramica Flaminia squad, with the aim being to gain entry to bigger events.

"[It is] a gesture of cooperation, decisive in enabling the move in a Pro Tour team,” said Riccò to La Gazzetta Dello Sport. “I am grateful to the team manager Roberto Marrone and thank all the staff of the team that I've always been close in recent months. There are now new experiences looming for me, but I can not forget who, at the end of the sanction, immediately showed me confidence.”

Marrone will have mixed feelings. On one hand, Riccò has been the highest-profile rider on the team and one who has taken several important results this year. He took two stages and the points classification in the Settimana Ciclista Lombardia, as well as second overall, then nabbed a stage and second again in the Giro del Trentino. More recently, he picked up two stages and the overall classification in the Tour of Austria.

However his past has also brought a degree of bad publicity to the team. Riccò tested positive for CERA in the 2008 Tour de France and underwent a long suspension. This likely led to Ceramica being excluded from Milan – San Remo and the Giro, something that Marrone alluded to in the midst of praise for the 26 year old rider.

"We are delighted and proud that Ricardo is once again at a high level and we thank him for the successes achieved by wearing our jersey,” he told La Gazzetta Dello Sport. “Now the hope of winning more and more important goals. Unfortunately, the failure to get an invite to the Tour of Italy compromised the project that we identified for these two seasons and we must take note of the state of cycling. From tomorrow we will focus with renewed enthusiasm on the formation of the new team which will participate in the 2011 season.” Riccò paid €75,000 to break his contract with the team.

The buzz around the rider has settled down and providing he steers clear of any positive tests, dodgy associations or dubious statements, it is unlikely that Quick Step would encounter much negative repercussions. Quick Step manager Patrick Lefevere were due to meet him this week, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport, and were due to talk terms.

Had the UCI’s deadline for applications to the Vuelta not been an issue, he could have boosted the strength and profile of the team. Current top rider Tom Boonen is still recovering from knee surgery and is thought highly unlikely to start.


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