Riccò’s collaboration with Sassi gets underway
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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Riccò’s collaboration with Sassi gets underway

by Shane Stokes at 6:57 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
Italian climber travels to Mapei Centre to start the next phase of his career

Riccardo RiccoWhat could prove to be the best chance for Riccardo Riccò to get is career back on track began yesterday when the controversial Italian climber arrived at the Mapei Centre in Castellanza to begin working with Professor Aldo Sassi.

The Vacansoleil rider has encountered resistance to his comeback after a lengthy doping ban, with his team being blocked from riding last month’s Tour of Lombardy due to his presence. His promise to work with Sassi, who has a strong anti-doping reputation and who conducts a battery of tests on his riders, including whole-body hemoglobing measurements, appears to already be paying off.

The organisers of the Tour of Lombardy, RCS Sport, also run the Giro d’Italia and the race director has already suggested that he may be allowed return to the Giro d’Italia in 2011 because of his link with Sassi.

"Ricco seems to be taking the road towards a resurrection in preparing with Professor Sassi,” Angelo Zomegnan told Gazzetta TV recently. “It’s a good point for him.”

Getting back to the Tour de France is a more difficult ask as he tested positive there in 2008, and so proving he has changed via his work with Sassi is crucially important. The two met towards the end of last month, just before Riccò went on holiday, and then Sassi told him that he was his last bet, referring to his advanced cancer.

He said that he put a lot of faith in Riccò to behave properly, choosing him for his last big project. According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, Sassi concluded his meeting with Riccò by telling him, “I have a life expectancy that goes as far as July: you’re my last gamble.”

La Gazzetta reports that things will properly get underway this morning, then a long workout is planned tomorrow. Riccò will presumably also undergo anti-doping tests and a physiological assessment.

He is attending with his partner Vania Rossi and their son Alberto. She supported him when he tested positive for CERA, but he walked out when she failed an A sample test for the same substance in January. The cyclo-cross rider was eventually cleared, reportedly because her B sample didn’t show a high-enough level of the drug.

Rossi is clearly also someone with a controversial past. The two are back together now, and hopefully both serious about doing things correctly from this point on. Sassi is staking his reputation on being able to keep Riccò on the right path; if the climber lets him down, the 27 year old Italian can expect little sympathy.

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