Quick Step manager Patrick Lefevere has said that he will meet with his sponsors tomorrow before deciding whether or not to open negotiations with Riccardo Riccò, but stated that he could see no reason why his team should not consider signing the controversial Italian.
“I don’t see the difference between signing a rider like Ivan Basso and signing Riccò. They were both suspended for the same thing,” Lefevere told Cyclingnews.
Riccò was handed a two-year doping ban in 2008 after testing positive for CERA at the Tour de France. He returned to competition in March of this year but his Ceramica Flamina team have not been invited to any major races since, including the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France. Riccò won the Tour of Austria in July.
La Gazzetta dello Sport this morning reported that Lefevere was due to meet with Riccò later today, but the Belgian said that he has yet to speak with the rider.
“I did not approach Riccò, he was offered to me by his agents,” Lefevere said. Riccò recently bought out his Flamina contract for €75,000 in order to facilitate a change of team in 2011. It is also understood that Vacansoleil have already offered him a deal for next season should talks with Quick Step not materialise.
Lefevere was reluctant to be drawn on rumours that Riccò would start the Vuelta a España for Quick Step should he ultimately reach an agreement with the squad. With Tom Boonen set to miss the Vuelta, Quick Step are in need of some added firepower for the Spanish race.
“If, if, if…It could be a possibility, but it’s all just hypothesis for now,” Lefevere explained. “Too many managers are leaking details to the media before they are confirmed. I will speak to my sponsor first.”