Argentinean Maximilano Richeze has renewed his contract with Lampre-Merida for another two years following a consistent season at WorldTour level. Richeze returned in 2011 from a two-year suspension following a positive test for stanozolol in 2008. After finishing on the podium 37 times –including 17 wins- with Team Nippo in 2011 and 2012 combined, he caught the eye of Lampre-Merida and signed for 2013. Now looking back over his first season at WorldTour level, Richeze remains content, but still wants more.
"The balance was good," he told Ciclismo Internacional. "After several years without WorldTour racing, I think I had a good second half of the season. The beginning was not very good. I had a hard time getting used to the pace but from the middle of the season I had adapted."
Richeze was no doubt consistent, with four podiums at the Vuelta, one at the Eneco tour, and five at the Tour of Qinghai Lake. As he explains, however, he believes the work he did improving his strength and endurance in order to cope with WorldTour racing is what cost him his top end sprint.
"This year I did a little bit more resistance work in order to keep up with the pace of the WorldTour races which are very long," he explained. "As a consequence, I lost some power which I lacked in the races. With a year of competition in my legs I can see that I have the strength for next year and I will now focus more on my sprint and find that little bit extra that has been missing."
"My weak point is explosive sprints," he continued. "The races that are short and flat cost me more. I prefer that the courses are a bit harder and that my rivals are a bit more tired in the sprint."
For the coming season Richeze hopes to race the Tour de France, but with his race program not decided yet he is preparing to begin his season at the Tour de San Luis and will take the rest as it comes.
"I would love to ride the Tour de France since I have never done it before and because it is the biggest race in the world," he said. "The main objective is to start strong in St. Louis and then from there we will see what unfolds."
Lampre have already announced the signing of Sacha Modolo and have also confirmed that Roberto Ferrari will remain on board for 2014. As to which of the three will be the team's headline sprinter, it appears to be a an open question at this point in time.