Boogerd: Riccò is super-arrogant and has an enormous mouth
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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Boogerd: Riccò is super-arrogant and has an enormous mouth

by Conal Andrews at 10:26 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
Dutchman acknowledges difficult personality but still argues the Italian deserves a second chance

Riccardo RiccoContract signed and bound for Vacansoleil, Riccardo Riccò will be welcomed by some on the team, but is bound to rub others up the wrong way. According to former top Dutch professional Michael Boogerd, the Italian rider can be hard to get along with, and had an elevated view of himself from the very start of his career.

“Riccò is a cyclist who, regardless of doping, always had opponents,” he wrote in his blog in Telesport. “He was not arrogant, but super-arrogant. He had not a big mouth, but an enormous mouth. You liked him or you had a great dislike to him.

“I can still remember how I first met him. In the Tirreno-Adriatico in 2006 I drove the pace at the front [of the peloton] to defend the leadership of Thomas Dekker. As a newcomer, Riccò began to squeeze between us. I pushed him away, and he pushed back. We had a few words, when he asked me who I thought I really was. Later in the hotel I looked at who that rider was. It proved to be Riccò.”

However, despite their history, Boogerd believes that the Italian should be allowed have a second chance, and that people should back off a little and let him get on with things. “Some in the peloton say that he did not deserve a place in a large team,” he continued. “I look at it differently. When riders including Ivan Basso, Michele Scarponi, David Millar and Alexandre Vinokourov may return, Riccò also deserves that chance.”

Boogerd said that he objected to the treatment given to Vinokourov when he won Liège-Bastogne-Liège earlier this year. The Astana rider was blasted by fans and by some of the media, and a portion of his fellow professionals also appeared to be less than happy.

The Dutchman gives two reasons why such treatment is wrong. “Firstly, everyone deserves a second chance, where he can show a better life. Second, we live now in the so-called "new cycling". It’s one sport that should be much cleaner because there is so much more controlled and the biological passport gives cheaters no space.”

The last point was written with a hint of sarcasm, because Boogerd then goes on to criticise the assumption that things were very dirty when he was winning races. However, he said that the fact that Ivan Basso and Alexandre Vinokourov are still winning shows that the top riders will prevail nonetheless.

For that reason, he feels that Michael Rasmussen should also be given opportunities. His ban ended last summer, yet he is still trying to find a squad that can give him access to the Grand Tours. The Danish climber is in talks with the Saxo Bank team and could end up riding in support of Alberto Contador in 2011.

As for Riccò, his discussions with the Quick Step team fell through, but he now has a place with Vancansoleil. Time will tell how that partnership works out, and if the arrogance that Boogerd mentions will lead to friction within the team.


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