Pellizotti signs for Androni-Venezuela

Franco Pellizotti has marked the end of his suspension for anomalies in his biological passport by signing for Androni-Venezuela, although the Italian rider will not be on the start line of the Giro d’Italia on Saturday.

Pellizotti had been linked with a number of Italian teams, including Lampre-ISD and Acqua & Sapone, but he eventually opted for Gianni Savio’s Androni-Venezuela squad. Given that his suspension expires on May 2, Pellizotti had spoken repeatedly of his desire to race the Giro in recent months, but will instead make his return to action at the Circuit Lorraine (May 16-20).

“I received some offers and I chose the team where I am certain to find the ideal environment in which to be re-launched,” Pellizotti told Tuttobici. “I can’t wait to get back to racing.”

Pellizotti fell foul of the UCI’s biological passport system in the lead-up to the 2010 Giro, after returning a series of irregular blood values dating back to 2009. Although he was initially cleared by the Italian national anti-doping court (TNA) in October 2010, the UCI successfully appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport the following March, and he was handed a two-year ban.

Androni-Venezuela manager Gianni Savio compared his acquisition with his signing of Michele Scarponi in 2008. After being suspended for his implication in Operacion Puerto, Scarponi made his comeback with Savio’s squad.

“[Pellizotti’s] was a particular case: he was suspended by CAS in Lausanne after he had been absolved by TNA in Rome, which is a court whose doping sentences are recognised by everybody as being especially rigorous,” Savio said.

“We really believe in Franco Pellizotti, and we’re convinced that he can follow the same path as Michele Scarponi, another athlete who found himself in a similar situation and who was re-launched at a high level with us.”

Savio also revealed that the team’s principal sponsor, toy manufacturer Androni, has agreed to extend its backing until the end of 2013.

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