The 36-year-old rode for Katusha last season, his first back in the peloton after serving suspension for his positive test for CERA at the 2009 Giro d’Italia. However, Di Luca failed to make any significant impact with the Russian team and he was not retained at the end of the year.
“I’m not hiding it, I didn’t go well,” Di Luca told Gazzetta dello Sport. “I think I suffered more than I thought I would from my inactivity. But I wouldn’t be putting myself back in the game if I wasn’t convinced I could return to my old levels. You know well that I don’t like just to scrape a living.”
Di Luca had been linked with a switch to the Acqua & Sapone squad, which is based in his home region of Abruzzo, since last autumn. While he insists that an agreement was always in place, his signing was not confirmed until this week. Di Luca began his career with Cantina Tollo, a forerunner to the current Acqua & Sapone set-up.
“I had the agreement for quite a while, I was always relaxed,” Di Luca said. “I started training in the middle of November, and I have around 8,000km in my legs.”
In the midst of Di Luca’s protracted negotiations with Acqua & Sapone, the Pro Continental squad learned that it had failed to secure a wildcard invitation to the Giro d’Italia. “For me, for Garzelli, for a team like this, the Giro is the centrepiece of the year,” Di Luca said. “It’s not nice, but the decision was made and I have to acknowledge it.”
With Saxo Bank’s WorldTour licence at risk following Alberto Contador’s suspension and the loss of his UCI points, Di Luca and Acqua & Sapone may yet have a late reprieve.
“I don’t know what to say about it. It doesn’t depend on us, and it’s also not nice to ‘cheer against’ another team for your own benefit. We’ll see.”
After the GP Lugano, Di Luca returns to Italian roads to make his Strade Bianche debut next weekend, before riding Tirreno-Adriatico.