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Di Luca to decide on 2011 team in coming week

Danilo Di Luca has revealed that he has been in talks with a number of teams for next season and that he will make an announcement on his future next week. The Italian, who has recently returned from a suspension for the use of CERA, hopes to sign for a ProTeam and expects to ride the Giro d’Italia in 2011.

“Yesterday the UCI announced the list of ProTeams, so I’ll decide where I’m going as soon as possible, probably before the end of next week,” Di Luca told Cyclingnews. “I’d rather go to a ProTour team as it would give me greater guarantees of riding in the big races.”

The Italian rider is understood to have been in talks with Lampre, Quick Step, Astana and Geox in recent weeks. His desire to ride in cycling’s first division would appear to rule Mauro Gianetti’s team out of the equation after Geox failed to win a ProTeam licence.

Di Luca recently had a two-year suspension for a positive test for CERA reduced by nine months as a result of his collaboration with the Italian authorities. He spoke to both CONI anti-doping prosecutor Ettore Torri and Padua-based public prosecutor Benedetto Roberti about the doping practices he had observed in the peloton but is adamant that he didn’t name any of his fellow professionals in his testimony.

“Other riders who collaborated in the past named the names of their colleagues and I didn’t like that,” Di Luca said. “My collaboration with Roberti was a different kind of collaboration in that I spoke to him about that various different methods of doping that I’ve seen in my years as a rider.

“I did it because I want to improve cycling for young people coming into the sport. I think things are improving now,” he claimed.

Di Luca also insisted that he sees no obstacle to riding the Giro d’Italia in his comeback season, in spite of comments from race organiser Angelo Zomegnan that suggested he might have to spend another year sidelined from the corsa rosa before returning. He won the race in 2007 before testing positive for CERA at the 2009 event.

“Those comments were from a few weeks ago,” Di Luca said. “I met Zomegnan in Milan since and I think his opinion is different now in respect to then.”

“I’ve made mistakes”

Di Luca admitted to Cyclingnews that a great many followers of the sport will not be pleased to see him ensconced in the peloton in 2011, but he maintains that he has served his penalty and is entitled to return.

As well as his positive test for CERA, Di Luca has been involved in other doping cases previously in his career, most notably the “Oil for Drugs” investigation centred on the activities of Dr. Carlo Santuccione which saw him barred from the 2004 Tour de France. He eventually received a three-month ban in late 2007.

“There are people who won’t be happy, but they’re the people who weren’t fans of mine beforehand anyway,” Di Luca claimed. “Everything I’ve done in my career, I’ve done it without hurting anybody.”

The man from Spoltore lists the Classics and the Giro as his primary objectives for 2011. He also believes that he should be considered for selection for the Italian team for the world championships in spite of his doping history, although he recognises that the Copenhagen course may not be tailored to his strengths.

“For the Worlds, it all depends on the route. Next year seems a rather easy course but the one in 2012 is much more suited to my characteristics,” Di Luca said.

“I’m like any other rider coming back from a suspension. I’ve made mistakes but I’ve served my penalty.”

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Barry Ryan

Barry Ryan is European Editor at Cyclingnews. He has covered professional cycling since 2010, reporting from the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and events from Argentina to Japan. His writing has appeared in The Independent, Procycling and Cycling Plus. He is the author of The Ascent: Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche and the Rise of Irish Cycling’s Golden Generation (opens in new tab), published by Gill Books.