Franco Pellizotti has described re-signing with Androni-Venezuela for 2014 following the collapse of his proposed move to Astana as a “Christmas present.” Manager Gianni Savio confirmed Pellizotti’s place on the team’s roster on Monday.
Pellizotti, who served a two-year ban from May 2010 to May 2012 after anomalies were detected in his biological passport, had agreed to join Astana for 2014 but the transfer hit a snag due to the Kazakh team’s membership of the Movement for Credible Cycling.
Under MPCC regulations, member teams cannot field riders who have served doping bans for a further two years after the end of their suspensions. Thus, Pellizotti would have been sidelined until 2 May, 2014, just before the start of the Giro d’Italia.
“The Astana management even asked me to ride with them from August 1 this year so that I could support [Vincenzo] Nibali at the Vuelta, but Gianni Savio rightly asked me to finish out the year with Androni because we had the chance of winning the Coppa Italia and thus being invited to the next Giro d’Italia,” Pellizotti told Elleradio.
“In the meantime, this problem with the MPCC emerged, Astana cooled a bit towards me and they officially signed [Michele] Scarponi. In the end, thanks to Gianni and the sponsors, we managed to reach this agreement that allows me to stay with him.
“For me this is a big Christmas present. It all arose at the last minute.”
Savio’s Androni-Venezuela team has also joined the MPCC in the intervening period, but and the Italian was careful to point out that Pellizotti’s status is not affected, insisting that his signing for 2014 is not a new contract per se, but rather the continuation of a pre-existing deal.
“I had already signed a contract with Savio in June, in which we wrote that if I didn’t find a WorldTour team [for 2014], I would stay on with them,” said Pellizotti, whose talks with Astana had begun during the Giro d’Italia and were ongoing at that point.
“Savio then made his plans for 2014 without me, given that, on paper, the deal with Astana was all done. Clearly, I haven’t signed the same deal I would have done with Astana, but that’s normal. My happiness goes far beyond the purely financial side of things.”
Pellizotti admitted, however, that he will be sorry to miss out on riding the Tour de France, where he finished in the polka dot jersey on his last appearance in 2009, only later to be stripped of the king of the mountains title due to the irregularities recorded in the blood profile of his biological passport.
“It would have been an honour to ride the Tour, and especially to do so with Vincenzo [Nibali], a rider who can bring the yellow jersey home. For me, that would have been a point of pride at the end of a beautiful career,” Pellizotti said. “On the other hand, I’m delighted to be able to ride the Giro d’Italia, which I’ll approach with the aim of winning stage and looking to be a protagonist throughout the three weeks.”