Di Luca psyched on eve of fresh start with Team Katusha
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Saturday, February 05, 2011

Di Luca psyched on eve of fresh start with Team Katusha

by Shane Stokes at 12:08 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
Italian rider returning in Mallorca Challenge

Danilo di LucaRecently signed to Team Katusha, Danilo Di Luca will make his return to competition in the Challenge a Mallorca races, which begins on the Spanish island on Sunday.

The 35 year old Italian rider served a suspension after testing positive for CERA en route to second overall in the 2009 Giro d’Italia. That led to a suspension of two years, but this was later reduced due to cooperation with investigators.

He initially denied any use of banned substances, then did a volte-face on that position in November. He says now that he has learned a lot from the experience and wants to move on with his career and his life. “Today, I feel like I´m a new man. A rider who, after a long self-criticism process, moved towards an important maturation. I know I made a mistake, but I atoned for my disqualification and today, after a long year of deliberation and thinking, I have a second chance with new motivations and incentives.

“The past taught me a lesson, but today I don´t feel like looking back any more. I face the competitions of the new season with my head held high and, for me, that means a lot. Not just on the sporting side.”

The Challenge Mallorca races comprise five 1.1-ranked events. Riders can dip in and out as they please, riding all five days and thus being eligible for the overall classification, or else picking and choosing which ones they want to ride. For that reason it is very popular with professional riders, as it gives them a versatility to mix training and racing, and also to ease back into action.

Di Luca will be one of three high-profile Katusha riders at the races. 2010 world number one Joaquin Rodriguez and former world championship silver medallist Alexander Kolobnev will also be competing, with the latter recently having received his Olympic bronze medal at the team launch in Moscow.

They will also be joined by Giampaolo Caruso, Juan Horrach Ripoll, Petr Ignatenko, Sergei Ivanov, Vladimir Karpets, Alberto Losada, Daniel Moreno, Artem Ovechkin, Egor Silin, Maxime Vantomme and Eduard Vorganov.

Di Luca is keen to get back racing. “I´m very excited. Usually there are lots of expectations between seasons, so imagine when the waiting lasts one year. I really don´t know what to expect from the Vuelta a Mallorca: I need this race to find the rhythm of the races again, to get to know my teammates better, and also in getting ready for this season´s big competitions.”

He said that thus far, things are going well. He has worked with some of the riders and staff before and that eases his transition. So too the team atmosphere, which he says motivates him. “There´s a lot of enthusiasm around this team: I don´t know what to expect by myself, but I promise I´ll give my best for this jersey. Always.”

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