Riccardo Riccò has signed with Vacansoleil, after officially annulling his contract with Italian team Ceramica Flaminia.
“I am happy to be back and though I believe everyone deserves a second chance, I know I am not there yet. I aim to give the fans great events by racing aggressively and honestly,” he said.
The move comes as a surprising about turn. It had previously been thought that ProTour team Quick Step had inked a deal with him, beating off other European suitors for his signature. The reasons for this sudden change are currently unclear.
Riccò came to the attention of the cycling world in 2007, winning a Giro d’Italia stage at Tre Cime di Lavoredo.
A year later, he claimed two stages wins and second overall at his home tour and went on to take two stage wins, at Superbesse and Bagneres-de-Bigorre, in the 2008 Tour de France.
Days after his wins, it was announced that he had tested positive for the blood-booster EPO-CERA, and Riccò was handed a 20-month suspension.
Since returning to the sport in March, the 26-year-old has won a stage at the Settimana Lombardia and the Giro del Trentino, and two stages and the overall at the Tour of Austria.
Vacansoleil team manager Daan Luijkx said: “As a team we have influence in things like the agreement and screening of the Italian. Riccò agreed, like all riders, on immediate termination of his contract and the payment of an astronomical amount in case of misbehaviour.”
With his contract annulment effective immediately, the Italian is contracted with the Dutch team till the end of 2012 and, UCI registration providing, is expected to make his debut at the GP Plouay on Sunday.
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