The Russian-registered Katusha team has confirmed it has signed Italian rider Giampaolo Caruso for the remainder of the 2010 season and for all of 2011.
The 29 year-old from Sicily was under contract with the Ceramica Flaminia team but was allowed to break that deal and sign with Katusha. Caruso is a good stage race rider and will be Katusha’s best hope for overall success in this year’s Giro d’Italia.
“Caruso is a good climber and we think he can do well at the next Giro d’Italia in the general classification,” said Katusha team manager Andrei Tchmil.
Caruso was under 23 European road race champion in 2001 and turned professional with the Spanish ONCE team. He won a stage at the 2005 Tour Down Under and also finished fourth in the Tour of Lombardy. Caruso rode for Astana in 2006, but was implicated in Operación Puerto mid-season. The Italian Cycling Federation eventually banned him for two years but he appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and the ban was overturned. However, he missed almost two years of racing trying to clear his name.
He rode for Ceramica Flaminia last year and won the Brixia Tour in July. When the Ceramica Flaminia team was not invited to this year’s Giro d’Italia, Katusha approached him and Ceramica Flaminia team manager Roberto Marrone agreed to let him go.
“Giampaolo got an offer from a ProTour team that guarantees him a ride at the Giro d’Italia. Because I couldn’t offer him that, I didn’t feel I could deny him such an opportunity.” Marrone said. “Unfortunately the current system doesn’t allow the so-called ‘minor’ teams to grow despite them having ambition, solid sponsors, capable management and competitive riders.”