Ceramica Flaminia have denied reports that Riccardo Riccò could make a mid-season switch to Quick Step, although his agent has refused to rule out that the controversial Italian rider could change teams.
The possibility of Riccò leading the Belgian squad at the Vuelta a Espana was first suggested by La Gazzetta dello Sport. However a statement from Ceramica Flaminia manager Roberto Marrone denied receiving any offers. “It is not true that there are negotiations in progress. As of today, nobody has made any proposal to us. Riccardo is a rider tied to Ceramica Flaminia and to other important sponsors now and in 2011. Furthermore, we have no meeting planned with Riccò to discuss this matter,” Marrone said.
Riccò’s agent, Alex Carera, sees things a little differently. Quoted by Cyclismag.fr, he said, “Nothing is impossible. Riccò signed for Flaminia with the guarantee of riding the Giro, and the team was not invited. On Friday, I want to hear what the future of the team will be. If there is no guarantee that next year Ricco can ride the big races, we will terminate the contract.”
Riccò returned to the peloton in Flaminia colours in March following a two-year suspension for the use of CERA. He is among the favourites for Saturday’s very hilly Italian Road Race Championship around Conegliano. Speaking in Friday's Gazzetta dello Sport, he noted that “the race is long and I have the base fitness, even though I haven’t ridden a race longer than 250km for two years, since the national championships in Bergamo [before his subsequent positive test at the 2008 Tour de France].”
He views Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas), Giovanni Visconti (ISD-Neri) and Matteo Carrara (Vacansoleil) as favourites, but sounded a warning of his own. “In 2004 I won the Italian under-23 title, and beforehand I had more or less the same sensations as now, I wasn’t convinced I could do it. Let’s say that that at Conegliano I’ll be the outsider. A loose cannon”.