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Riccardo Riccò, the controversial Italian who tested positive for CERA-EPO during the 2008 Tour de France, has penned a tentative deal to join Quick Step.
According to a story in La Gazzetta dello Sport, Riccò has signed a deal with the Belgian outfit through the end of the 2011 season.
“I don’t know when my new adventure will begin, but I hope I can race the Vuelta,” Riccò told the Italian sports daily. “I wouldn’t go thinking about the GC, but rather to try to win stages. It’s been since the 2008 Giro that I have raced a three-week grand tour.”
Riccò’s name did not appear on a preliminary start list revealed Thursday by Vuelta race organizers. It will be interesting to see if Vuelta officials allow Riccò to race. Last year, Michael Rasmussen tried to find a late-hour ride with a Spanish team but was denied a starting place in the Vuelta when his name was not listed on the preliminary start list.
On Thursday, Ceramica Flaminia officials confirmed that Riccò would be leaving the team.
Riccò, 26, also said he had received offers from Vacansoleil and from Caisse d’Epargne, which announced a new sponsor with Team Movistar on Thursday. The Italian said he chose Quick Step because it offered the best chances to get into the biggest races.
Riccò served a 20-month ban and returned to racing this season in mid-March. He won stages and finished overall at both the Settimana Lombarda and the Giro del Trentino, but his Flaminia team was not invited to the Giro d’Italia. Riccò recently won two stages and the overall at the Tour of Austria.
Team officials, however, were quick to say that deal is far from complete. A team spokesman told Belgian media that “there is nothing official,” adding that team management wanted to review the agreement with its sponsors before confirming the deal.