Riccardo Ricco to seek redemption at this year's Giro d'Italia
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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Riccardo Ricco to seek redemption at this year's Giro d'Italia

by Jered Gruber at 10:57 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Italian star spends the evening before his season's first race with his fans at home near Modena

On the eve of his season debut, Riccardo Ricco spent the evening with family, friends, fans, and the press at an event at the Polisportiva Formiginese, which is the home of Ricco's first team, US Formigine, just outside of Modena in Emilia Romagna. The event was staged by Ricco's fan club and raised money for the Italian Association of Mucopolysaccharidosis and related diseases. The press release explains further that the organization deals with children's genetic diseases. The Vacansoleil-DCM rider signed t-shirts and caps and offered them to supporters who gave to the organization.

The press in attendance did not pass up the opportunity to quiz the 27 year old about his upcoming plans and namely - how was it possible that Ricco would only be doing two races in Italy this spring: Milano-Sanremo and the Giro d'Italia? The former Giro d'Italia runner-up will miss out on the Race of the Two Seas, Tirreno-Adriatico, this year, as he opted instead to aim for a race that he has never taken part in before, the Race to the Sun, Paris-Nice.

"This year, I will finally have the chance to prove myself in the biggest races, and I thought it would be appropriate to take advantage of it. I picked Paris-Nice over Tirreno-Adriatico because it is a race that I've never done, and I am sincerely attracted by the opportunity to do it.

Paris-Nice seems to be a race tailor made for Ricco's explosive climbing talents. Riders like Alberto Contador and Luis Leon Sanchez have made the race their playground in recent years, and it would seem that Ricco easily falls into the mold of a rider built to win Paris-Nice, though Ricco is careful not to put any hopes on overall honors, instead preferring to focus on a few stages.

"Despite my ambitious program for the spring [which will be highlighted by the Ardennes Classics and the Giro], I already hope to perform well in some interesting stages of Paris-Nice that suit my characteristics."

With Paris-Nice, the Ardennes Classics, and the Giro high on the native of Modena's to do list, Ricco is perfectly content to leave his schedule there for the time being. The all encompassing question of whether he'll return to the Tour de France in 2011 will have to wait.

"At the moment, my plans stop at the Giro d'Italia, everything else, I will carefully assess at a later date."

Ricco certainly has other goals this spring, but there is no other race near in importance to May's Giro d'Italia for the former runner-up to Alberto Contador. It will hopefully be a Giro of "redemption" for the rider who tested positive for CERA-EPO at the Tour de France just a few months after taking 2nd at the Giro in 2008.

For once, it seems Ricco knows what this year and what this Giro will mean. He says that he is "aware of the expectations in hopes of seeking redemption with my fans, and I'm conscious of the fact that I will face great adversaries, with Nibali particularly motivated by the qualitative leap achieved by winning the Vuelta. The course appeals to me particularly, and I am determined to do well."

Ricco will make his 2011 season debut on Sunday at the Grand Prix Cycliste la Marseillaise. The controversial Italian climber will take the start with a powerful team of Romain Feillu, Johnny Hoogerland, Björn Leukemans, Pim Ligthart, Marco Marcato, Frederik Veuchelen, and Lieuwe Westra. The tough one day race could be ideal for Ricco, it includes three ascents in the final part of the race: the Petit Galibier, l'Espigoulier, and the Julhans.



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