Vacansoleil's Riccardo Ricco set to target a focused early season schedule
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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Vacansoleil's Riccardo Ricco set to target a focused early season schedule

by Jered Gruber at 9:16 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Prodigal Italian talent set to return to the sport's biggest race in 2011

Late season Vacansoleil signing, Riccardo Ricco, has unveiled his schedule for the first part of the 2011 season. The rider, who returned from a doping suspension last year, rode a limited schedule with both the team he started the season with, Flaminia, and the season he completed it with, Vacansoleil.

However, 2011 will see the infamous climber return to the sport's biggest races, as his Vacansoleil team received the coveted ProTeam status for next year, and with it, a virtual assurance of entry into the races that will perfectly suit Ricco's talents.

According to Biciciclismo, the 27 year old will not be making any big travel arrangements for the first part of the season, instead, he will make his season start at the Tour of the Mediterranean at the beginning of February. From there, he'll head to Spain for the Vuelta a Andalucia, before hitting what will likely be considered his first highlight in the new year, Paris-Nice.

Interestingly, Ricco will not race in Italy until the 19th of March - Milano-Sanremo. In recent years, Tirreno-Adriatico has become the race of choice for the riders aiming for glory at La Primavera, so Ricco's choice of Paris-Nice is an interesting one - and also one that makes sense, as Paris-Nice is notoriously hard and mountainous, and will certainly fall within his wheelhouse. It will be a first chance to see how the new, clean Ricco stacks up against the sport's best on the uphill terrain that he has made a name for himself on.

Following Milano-Sanremo, Ricco will once again leave his home country and head for Spain, this time for the even more mountainous, Volta Catalunya. From there, he will head to the Ardennes for a three-race date with Classics destiny.

Once again, Ricco's choice is an interesting one and would seem ready for changing, as for many, the Vuelta al Pais Vasco is considered ideal preparation for the Ardennes Classics, and is also one of the hilliest, most difficult stage races of the season. Perhaps, the Tour of the Basque Country will be added a little closer to its running, or perhaps, Ricco is making a point at racing less early in the season with a focus on the Giro and perhaps a return to the Tour de France - the scene of his greatest, dirty triumphs in 2008.

Following Liege-Bastogne-Liege, the former podium finisher at the Giro d'Italia will make his return to the race on May 7th.

Tour of the Mediterranean (9-13 February)
Vuelta a Andalucia (20-24 February)
Paris-Nice (6-13 March)
Milano-Sanremo (19 March)
Volta Catalunya (21-27 March)
Amstel Gold (17 April)
Fleche Wallonne (20 April)
Liege-Bastogne-Liege (24 April)
Giro d'Italia (7-29 May)


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