Italy's Riccardo Riccò, one day after the surprise announcement that he will race the Tour de France, has indicated that he will aim for the stages of Super Besse and Alpe d'Huez. His idol Marco Pantani claimed victory twice on Alpe d'Huez – 1995 and 1997 – something that the 24 year-old Saunier Duval-Scott rider would like to repeat.
"The arrival of l'Alpe d'Huez, where Pantani won two times, attracts me in an unimaginable way," noted Riccò to La Gazzetta dello Sport. The climb, this year stage 17, has featured 25 times in the Tour de France.
Riccò said that he does not intend on riding for the overall classification and added that stage six, to Super Besse, is one that also sparks his interest. However, with two stages wins and second place overall in the recent Giro d'Italia, one spot behind Spaniard Alberto Contador, he is content with what he has already accomplished. "I will take it all very easy, what comes comes. My season has already been set. I did not hit my target, but I went very close and I am happy."
The last and only time he raced the French Grand Tour was in 2006, when he finished 97th overall riding at the side of leader Gilberto Simoni. "It was a nightmare," he recalled. "It was my first year as a professional and my first Grand Tour. It was a huge experience and an enormous satisfaction to be able to finish it because it was really hard work. ... I had a crisis and in the finale I was able to recover."
He looks back at his break between the Giro d'Italia, which ended on June 1, and the start of the Tour de France as a good experience, even if he did not make it to vacation in Sardegna. He joked that his preparation for the Tour de France is similar to how Contador spent his days before arriving at the Giro d'Italia, "I went to Rimini and Riccione, seeing is how the beach did Contador well..."