Riccardo Ricco today announced he's quitting cycling, in an interview with today's Gazetta dello Sport the disgraced former VancanSoleil rider said that the cycling world "makes me want to puke" so he's off,"Ricco is no more", he says.
And what does the future hold for the bad(est) boy of cycling "I am going to become a bar tender, I've always liked it ", Ricco told the paper– a career choice that at the very least opens him up to numerous shot-based jokes, either that, says Ricco, or he is going to work in a factory where he won't have to do too much thinking. Hmm.
He may be bowing out but if his Gazzetta interview is anything to go by Ricco is not leaving with his tail between his legs - as well as being sick of cycle racing and the people in it, he also maintained he was innocent of the latest allegation of doping stemming from his hospitalisation last month with suspected kidney failure. Ricco denied telling the doctor treating him that he had given himself a blood transfusion.
"He says this, I say something else. I was a bit out of it and I don’t know what I might have said,” before adding. “We’ll see from the tests who is telling the truth.”
Riccó's decision that he has had enough of cycling may well prove to be academic, if found guilty of doping a second time he faces a life ban from the sport. CONI, the Italian Olympic Committee which oversees disicplinary matters in cases of doping in Italian sport immediately opened disciplinary proceedings when details of Ricco's recent hospitalisation were announced. The rider also faces a judicial investigation into his conduct.
Ricco's career has been on a downward trajectory since he failed a drugs test for EPO at the 2008 Tour following the second and most spectacular of his mountain stage wins. Riccó returned from the resulting ban in March last year (he was also handed a suspended prison sentence by a French court) and had looked to have made it back to the top level of the sport by securing himself a berth on the VacanSoleil team for this season.
Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.