Emanuele Sella (Androni Giocattoli) is hoping to return to the Giro d’Italia this year for the first time since testing positive for CERA in 2008. While the Italian is enthusiastic about the mountainous route, he acknowledged that he grateful simply to have the opportunity to ride in the race once again.
“It’s a Giro for climbers,” Sella told Gazzetta dello Sport. “But I like the Giro regardless, it would suit me as well even to do it in the opposite direction, starting in Milan and finishing in Turin. It’s the race closest to my heart, the one that’s under my skin, the one I dreamt of since I was a child. To be there is a dream.”
Sella won three stages on his last Giro appearance and his eyebrow-raising performances saw him singled out for targeted anti-doping tests. On July 23 of that year he returned a positive sample for CERA in an out-of-competition test.
“I made a mistake and I paid for it. Amen. I turned the page and started living again with due humility,” Sella said. “From that day I’ve looked ahead, with trust and calm. And little by little, I’d like to get back to my place.”
After collaborating with the Italian Olympic Committee by naming his suppliers, including former teammate Matteo Priamo, Sella was handed a reduced suspension of just one year. He returned to racing in August 2009 in the colours of CarmioOro-NGC and admitted that not everybody in the peloton was happy to welcome him back to the fold.
“There were those who understood me and those who didn’t,” Sella said. “The same as anywhere.”
Sella’s first full season back in the saddle did not go as smoothly as planned. His CarmioOro team was sidelined from many of the biggest races on the Italian calendar, while he struggled to find motivation at various points in the year.
“It was a year of transition, a peculiar one, but it all helps,” Sella said. “I raced fitfully and I struggled to find objectives. At certain moments I also let myself go, all told it was difficult.”
In spite of his travails, he found an admirer in Androni Giocattoli manager Gianni Savio, whose squad is apparently assured of a place in May’s Giro after winning the team classification of the 2010 Coppa Italia.
“Gianni Savio noticed, watched and followed me,” Sella explained. “I explained myself, he understood and he gave me this possibility, a great possibility. Savio calls me and he encourages me, and this has given me a faith that perhaps I didn’t have any more.”
Androni have lost Michele Scarponi to Lampre-ISD in the off season, but Sella is looking forward to riding alongside some other aggressive climbers, including José Rujano.
“It’s a team of attackers, climbers and adventurous riders,” he said. “We could enjoy ourselves.”
Sella will make his Androni debut at the Tour of Langkawi, starting on January 23, and will then focus primarily on the Italian calendar in the lead-up to the Giro: “We’re still waiting on invitations to the races that are most important to us, from Tirreno-Adriatico to Milan-San Remo to the Giro d’Italia.”
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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.