Italian cyclist Riccardo Riccò hopes to leave the Modena hospital today after suffering from suspected kidney problems.
"Riccò's condition, initially critical, is improving," read a medical bulletin last night. "The prognosis, being cautious, remains confidential."
Riccò's dad, Rubino, explained to La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper that the doctors have pointed to kidney or lung problems.
"The doctors have spoken of kidney failure and even pulmonary embolism," said Rubino, "although they are still completing the investigation."
Riccò, 27, had felt ill on Saturday after training and told his dad that he had a fever of 38°C. It rose to 40°C overnight and was accompanied by abdominal pain. Rubino took his son to the local hospital in Pavullo Sunday morning. Doctors saw Riccò's condition was critical and transferred him to the hospital in Modena.
"Luckily, Riccardo seems to be better. He had a kidney failure once before, when he was 14, but not this serious," added Rubino.
"We have been through a lot, but this is really hard ... My wife and I are demolished."
Last year, Riccò returned to racing after serving a ban due to a failed EPO anti-doping test at the 2008 Tour de France. That year, racing with team Saunier Duval, he won two stages and finished second behind Alberto Contador at the Giro d'Italia.
At the Tour de France two months later, he tested positive for blood booster EPO-CERA. The test results became available on July 17, after he had won two stages (Super-Besse and Bagnères-de-Bigorre). He subsequently lost his stage wins and served a 20-month suspension.
Riccò successfully returned with team Ceramica Flaminia last year. He won a stage at Settimana Lombarda, a stage at Giro del Trentino, and two stages and the overall Tour of Austria. He left Ceramica Flaminia one year early, paying the team €75,000, to join Vacansoleil in August.
Riccò paid Vacansoleil back immediately by winning the Coppa Sabatini one-day race in October. Vacansoleil benefited from his UCI points to gain a first division licence for this season.
He began his season a week ago at the GP Marseillaise in France. He was due to start the Tour Méditerranéen stage race tomorrow.
September 2010: Ricco faces second soping investigation
Ricco leaves Flaminia, plans for Tour return in 2011
Ricco's doping suspension shortened
Ricco positive for EPO at Tour de France (2008)
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Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.
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