Controversial Italian cyclist Riccardo Riccò, sacked by Dutch ProTeam Vacansoleil-DCM earlier this year following what was apparently a botched attempt at a self-administered blood transfusion, is set to return to racing after signing a contract with the Campania-based Team Meridiana.
Team manager Antonio Giallorenzo confirmed to the Italian website Tuttobiciweb that “Riccardo has been working with us for ten days or so, he’s calm, he’s signed an agreement and is training with great intensity.
“Today we will confirm the agreement and there will be the first pictures of Riccò with the Team Meridiana jersey. Our intention remains that of having him make his debut in the Tour of Serbia which takes place from 13 to 16 June.”
Riccò had joined Vacansoleil last September from Ceramica Flaminia, the Italian team he rode for after returning from a ban imposed after testing positive for CERA while riding the 2008 edition of the Tour de France in which he had claimed two stage victories while riding for Saunier Duval.
No action has yet been taken by the Italian authorities following the events leading to Riccò being released by Vacansoleil, when he ended up in hospital with kidney failure and reportedly told doctors that he believed his condition was due to a blood transfusion he had given himself before going on a training ride.
In recent days it had been reported that Riccò was set to join the Italian-backed, Ukraine-registered Continental outfit Amore & Vita, whose manager Ivano Fanini outlined five conditions that the 27-year-old needed to meet before joining.
Those conditions, reported by the Italian news agency ANSA, mostly related to putting his doping past behind him, but bizarrely, the first condition was that he “Remove the two earrings and the jewel that he has had inserted in a tooth” – presumably to minimise any risk of Riccò setting a bad example to the young riders on the team.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.