Riccardo Riccò’ has revealed he will begin his 2011 season in France and ride Paris-Nice as he continues trying to shake off the bad-boy image of the past.
The Italian climber tested positive for CERA during the 2008 Tour de France and was banned from racing for 20 months but made a comeback with the Flaminia Ceramica team in the spring before joining the Vacansoleil team in the summer. He was given a two-month suspended prison sentence and fined 600 Euro in France for doping but has appealed against the sentence.
Riccò raced mostly in Italy following his comeback this season but plans a more international calendar in 2011. He avoids saying he hopes to ride the Tour de France, while speaking to Gazzetta dello Sport, but Paris-Nice is also organised by ASO and he knows it could be an important step in securing him a place in Vacansoleil’s Tour squad.
“Now we’ve got a ProTour licence and we’re twelfth in the new UCI ranking for next season, it should mean we’re in line to be invited to all the big races, even if nothing is certain,” he said.
Riccò will make his season debut at the Tour du Mediterraneen (February 9-13) and then ride the Ruta del Sol in Spain (February 20-24), Paris-Nice (March 6-13) and Milan-San Remo (March 19). He will also ride the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya (March 21-27) before the Ardennes Classics and then the Giro d’Italia (May 7-29).
With such an intense early season, he is already back in training, following a programme drawn up by new coach Professor Aldo Sassi.
“I’ve been back on the bike for about 20 days, I’m just working steady,” Riccò said. “The work with Aldo Sassi is continuing and I’m happy with how things are going. I speak to him and his staff quite often. I’ve changed the way I train, adding more specific workouts but without turning things upside down.”
Riccò’ has also revealed he will publish his blood values on the internet like fellow Sassi rider Ivan Basso did during his comeback from a doping ban.
"I’ve decided to put my values on line as soon as my new website is ready. It should be at the start of January or even earlier,” Riccò assured.