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Can Riccò win back the fans he let down?
Italian ready to come back in March with Ceraminca Flaminia
Riccardo Riccò will make his return to racing on March 18, 2010, after a 20-month ban. The enfant terrible of Italian cycling, rather outspoken in the past, has taken a low-profile during his suspension and is now looking forward to returning into the public eye.
"I have admitted my wrongdoings, and now all I want to think about is the bike," Riccò told Italian daily Libero on Sunday, saying that he was confident he could return to the highest level once again.
"Inside of me, I know that I can do it, I'm only waiting for the road to confirm my sensations."
Ceraminca Flaminia, the Professional Continental team that signed the Italian through 2011, will be welcoming Riccò once his suspension ends. With his personal trainer, Giovanni Camorani, the "Cobra" has set up a training programme for him to be competitive right away - two days after being back in business, on March 20, the squad hopes to be at the start of Milano-Sanremo.
"If not, my race programme will change," commented Riccò when asked whether he thought he would participate in "La Primavera". The 26-year-old also nurtures hope to be invited to the Giro d'Italia.
Now that his ban will come to an end, Riccò feels his return to competition is right. "I'm not the first one who faulted, nor will I be the last. But it's important to get a second chance. We cannot pay for our mistakes our whole lives.
"I churned out the kilometres to prepare for my return, and I have a great will to come back. Two years are a lot, but I don't think of it as a new career. Rather, it is a new beginning and we will see where it will lead me."
The Italian knows that part of the public might not be happy to see him back. "It was like that even before my ban, with those who were against me. You can't please everyone. Many people close to me have given me their support," he said, adding that he will return to his former self - in terms of outspokenness - once he returns to competition.
"That's how I am - character bends but doesn't change. If I think that I can do well in a race, I will certainly say so."