Riccardo Riccò has been registered with the small Meridiana-Kamen team by the UCI, meaning he can now ride the Tour of Serbia that begins on June 13.
Riccò’s name has been added to the team’s roster on the UCI website and team manager Antonio Giallorenzo confirmed to Cyclingnews that Riccò will make his return to racing in Serbia before possibly riding other races in Italy, Germany and even France.
Riccò has not raced since finishing seventh in the GP Cycliste La Marseilllaise on January 30. A week later, he was rushed to hospital near his home on Modena after suffering a serious kidney failure. According to reports in Gazzetta dello Sport, the doctor who first visited Riccò told police that the Italian rider had admitted to undergoing a blood transfusion a few hours before he became ill. Riccò has always denied this, claiming he was too ill to say anything to the doctor but he was sacked by the Vacansoleil team soon after.
“Riccò is a good guy, who wants to rebuild his career and race again,” Antonio Giallorenzo told Cyclingnews.
“I’ve spent time with him recently and he’s not the devil that everyone describes him as. He’s got the face of an angel and is always friendly and well behaved. We hope he can help us develop the team. We’re based in the south of Italy but all the local riders have to move north to turn professional. We hope he can help us grow and go on to ride a grand tour.
“At the moment Riccò hasn’t been found guilty of anything and so just like other riders it's right that he’s allowed to race again. The UCI has given him a licence and so he will ride the Tour of Serbia. After that he’ll probably ride the Trofeo Matteotti in Italy and other races. We’ve been contacted by organisers in Germany, France and Portugal, who all want Riccò in their races.”
Giallorenzo admitted that his decision to sign Riccò had sparked a flood of emails to the small Continental team that is registered in Croatia but based near Naples. Former local rider Toto Commesso is now a directeur sportif with the team.
“We’ve had some nasty emails but we’ve also had lots of supportive messages from people who want to see Riccò make a comeback and be treated like everyone else. I believe he wants to make an honest comeback and just race his bike. We believe he’s innocent until proven guilty.”