The Vacansoleil team has announced the signing of Riccardo Riccò. The controversial Italian, who tested positive for CERA at the 2008 Tour de France, will ride for the Dutch-based team for two years and will make his debut in the blue and yellow Vacansoleil colours at the GP Plouay next Sunday if his licence is processed in time by the UCI.
Riccò told Gazzetta dello Sport that he had signed for Quick Step last Friday but the deal fell through and Vacansoleil moved quickly to sign Riccò.
"The last week it all developed really quickly while we were looking for a real climber in add to our team for 2011. After we consulted the main sponsor Vacansoleil we decided to meet Riccò. The meeting made us decide to go for it," team manager Daan Luijkx said in a statement.
"We share the ambition and way of racing with him. If you look at the way he won the Tour of Austria, with blood all over his face after a crash but still made it to the finish, you know he is a special rider.”
“In 2010 we must look at Riccò as a rider who paid his debt and look to the future. In the last few years several riders were able to contribute to clean cycling after being suspended, Riccardo has to be in that group. There are not many riders who can finish in the top 3 of a major Tour and Riccò is one of them.”
“Our main sponsor and team believe that after being punished, Riccò, like everyone else, deserves a second chance. Riccò agreed, like all riders, on immediate termination of its contract and the payment of an astronomical amount in case of misbehaviour. Examples of misbehaviour can be found in actions which bring the team in discredit and/or the failure to comply with internal regulations. Let's await his UCI registration and see if he is able to make his debut at GP Plouay were we will immediately see his high level."
Riccò underwent a medical with the team on Monday and promised to ride aggressively and honestly.
"I’m happy to be back and I believe everyone deserves a second chance. I know I ain't there yet. I aim to give the fans great events by racing aggressive and honest. By choosing the Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team I chose a team where they have a zero-tolerance policy and where a clean sport is one of the major objectives. A team which sets an example will be good for me in my second life as a cyclist.”
“During the meetings with Vacansoleil, they were strict in their conditions but fair and I am confident in our co-operation. I will not falsify their trust and image and will pay them back with great results."