"They did not want me in the escape group," explained 23 year-old Riccardo Riccò after Giro d'Italia stage 8, which finished only a few kilometres from his home. The second-year professional found himself in a difficult situation where he could have used some of the hard-headedness of his team captain, Gilberto Simoni.
Riccò was in a power-move of 27 that formed on the backside of the Passo della Futa. (Read Cyclingnews' complete live report.) His presence, only 5'45" down on the GC at the start of the day, was a problem for the "senatori", experienced riders like World Champion Paolo Bettini and Lampre's Marzio Bruseghin who wanted the break to succeed. The other riders started to work over Riccò buy leaving gaps and forcing him out of the break. Eventually Riccò got the message and dropped back.
150 kilometres was not enough for Riccò's emotions to settle down. Upon crossing the line in Fiorano Modenese he rode straight for the team bus without saying much. "Finally, I was in an escape, they were not working well. It was constant attacking and counter-attacking. However, when I dropped back everything went with love and harmony," he stated, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.
Riccò spoke with the press after a 10 minute pow-wow in the Saunier Duval bus with Simoni and Directeur Sportif Pietro Algeri.
"I decided on my own to come back; the riders in general did not want me in that escape," Riccò tried to clarify. Due to the absence of a Saunier rider and several Liquigas and Lampre men up front, the yellow squad was forced to pull for the majority of the day. "I made a mistake to go back to the group," Riccò continued.
Algeri, a directeur since 1982 (with Del Tongo), and Simoni are guiding the fresh talent. "Riccardo is young," commented Algeri. "He found himself in his first complicated situation. As a matter of fact, a situation that overpowered him. Also, he found himself outside of radio contact [with the team car].
"The first thing I had said was to stay there and not pull. Anyhow, he made a mistake because before he let go he should have sought my advice, instead, he made the decision on his own."
After Riccò joined the main gruppo his team was forced to chase so that the gap to potential GC-threats would not become insurmountable. "This situation [with Riccò] forced everyone to work hard all day. If he had remained in the escape then the other teams would have had to work to close.
"I don't understand how some of the other teams raced. The others want to win the Giro but did not help."
Simoni commented on the escape. "This stage could have finished the Giro," he noted. One's mind flashes back to the famous Oscar Pereiro 2006 Tour escape. "If Saunier did not pull then the classification would have been over. Now, some of the other riders will have to give a lot to rise back up the ranks, while others that arrived with the front-runners will stay high in the classification until the end."
The Giro should see a big GC-shake up on Tuesday when the stage finishes Nostra Signora della Guardia. "True," remarked Gibo. "But I have a debit to pay with the Izoard."
A side note is that Saunier Duval, directed by father and son, Pietro and Matteo, is the former team of race leader Marco Pinotti. While Saunier was working hard to protect the GC-interests of Simoni it was also helping its close friend. 'Pino' went to school with Matteo in Bergamo and credits the DS and his dad for his start in cycling.