By Gregor Brown
Tinkoff Credit Systems announced yesterday the signing of three new riders for the 2008 season. The Italian Professional Continental squad owned by Russian Oleg Tinkov will bring onboard Luca Mazzanti, Bernardo Riccio and Alexander Gottfried. 33 year-old Italian Mazzanti will bring the experience of 11 years as a professional cyclist to the team -- the last five being with Ceramica Panaria-Navigare.
The rider from Bologna scored a big win early this spring with the GP Lugano, but it was one day prior that he probably caught the attention of the team directed by Orlando Maini, Dmitri Konychev and Claudio Cozzi; he was narrowly beaten in the Swiss Classic GP Chiasso by Tinkoff's own Pavel Brutt.
Italian Riccio and German Gottfried, both 22 years old, have ridden as stagiaires with Tinkoff in selected races this fall.
Riccio, from Napoli, will make the jump to the professional ranks after starting this year as a dilettante ('amateur') with team Filmop Parolin. In 2006 he accumulated four wins, and Tinkoff will help him develop to achieve his first victory in the top levels of cycling.
Gottfried has ridden the last three years for German Continental Team Sparkasse. In 2005 his name was first noticed when he won stage seven of the Tour de l'Avenir. He has been selected by the team to ride in the Giro dell'Emilia this afternoon, joining Salvatore Commesso, Ricardo Serrano, Mikhail Ignatiev, Daniele Contrini, Ivan Rovny, Pavel Brutt and Evgeni Petrov.