Must Reads: Voigt thanks Basque fans; Ricco denies blood doping

Must Reads: Voigt thanks Basque fans; Ricco denies blood doping Voigt writes ‘thank you’ note to Basque fans

Jens Voigt wrote an impassioned thank you note to Basque fans for their loyal support throughout his 14-year career. The popular Leopard-Trek rider recently completed the Tour of the Basque Country and wanted to express his gratitude to the passionate and supportive fans whom he says “are always there.” Voigt wrote: “My first win as a professional rider was in the Tour of the Basque Country in my first professional year back in the year 1998. I was still in the blue and white team kit from “Team Gan” and this victory changed my cycling career for the better. It was also the first time I had the good fortune to experience the passion and fairness of the Basque fans.I remember it well. It was a very cold and rainy day, and you still showed up for the finish and the podium ceremony in large numbers.And probably there and then I fell in love with the Basque Country and the people living here. Every year after that, when my team got an invitation to the race, I signed up for the Tour of the Basque Country. I just love it, even though it’s one of the hardest races you can find on the calendar in terms of the terrain and quality of the peloton. Regardless, I just love to come back. … Thank you, my beloved Basque fans!”

AP: Ricco denies blood doping, wants to return to racing

The Associated Press reported that Riccardo Ricco has denied transfusing his own blood and said he wants to return to cycling after meeting Wednesday with the Italian Olympic Committee’s anti-doping prosecutor. The AP wrote that Ricco was rushed to a hospital in Pavullo after feeling ill on Feb. 6. The doctor who treated him reportedly told police that Ricco admitted transfusing his own blood, which he allegedly kept in his home refrigerator. “I don’t remember anything about my recovery — I was more dead than alive,” Ricco said. “They just told me that it was a virus.” Ricco’s lawyer, Fiorenzo Alessi, suggested that there was a misunderstanding produced by “the heat of the moment. It’s rare that a physician would behave like that,” Alessi said.