Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The "Cobra" will aim for white jersey at the Tour de France

This year’s Tour de France should be a little more interesting following news Tuesday that outspoken Italian rider Riccardo Riccò will take the July 5 start in Brest.

Riccò ─ whose verbal outbursts are almost as lethal as his accelerations in the mountains ─ will take aim at the best young rider’s white jersey during his second Tour appearance.

The 24-year-old Riccò, seen by many in Italy as the heir to deceased Giro and Tour winner Marco Pantani, is considered a longshot for the Tour's yellow jersey.

On his race debut in 2006, working for Italian climber Gilberto Simoni, Riccò finished in 98th position overall. Riccò, second to Alberto Contador in the Giro d’Italia, replaces the sidelined José Ángel Gómez Marchante, out with health problems, as Saunier Duval-Scott revealed its nine-man Tour squad.

Also getting a nod is Italian climbing specialist Leonardo Piepoli, who crashed out of the Giro in the Dolomites with three broken ribs and various fractures in his left hand.

Juan José Cobo, 20th overall last year, will be taking aim for the top 10 in his second Tour ride.

“I’ll take aim for the top 10 in the Tour. Last year I was 20th in my first crack at it, so this year, I’m sure things will go even better,” said Cobo, who won the 2007 Vuelta al País Vasco. “I wish there were more climbs in this year’s Tour, but we’ll have to do the best we can. At least there are less time trial kilometers, too.”

Four riders ─ Josep Jufre, Litu Gómez, Jesús del Nero and Alberto Fernández de la Puebla ─ will be making their Tour debut.

Saunier Duval-Scott for Tour de France
Juan José Cobo (Sp)
Jesus del Nero (Sp)
Alberto Fernandez de la Puebla (Sp)
David de la Fuente (Sp)
Angel Litu Gomez (Sp)
Josep Jufre (Sp)
Leonardo Piepoli (I)
Riccardo Riccò (I)

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