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by Mark Zalewski
December 9, 2016
In today’s CyclingTips Daily News Digest: British Cycling investigation cleared Sutton of eight of nine charges; British government to bail out UK sport after shortfall; Herning to host 2017 European Road Cycling Championships; Geraint Thomas calls Wiggins’ TUE controversy a grey area; Storey says British Cycling controversies not a distraction; Gerrans to race Herald Sun Tour; Sun Tour Falls Creek finish extended to the resort; Pellizotti signs with Bahrain-Merida; Coach says Wiggins has enough for one more Olympics; Olympians headline Tasmanian Christmas Carnivals races; Pavlukhina signs with Astana Women’s Team; Police use audio from incident that killed cyclist in anti-drink driving campaign; Boardman calls for overhaul of British Highway Code; Woman rides high-wheel across America; Vancouver’s Multi-Modal Success Story; Bikepacking Vietnam: The Documentary.
Franco Pellizotti is the latest signing for the new WorldTour team Bahrain-Merida. The 38-year-old Italian climbing-specialist will support Vincenzo Nibali’s Grand Tour aspirations, who he rode with when he joined the Liquigas team in 2010. He has a controversial past, having served a two-year suspension for biological passport issues from 2010-2012.
Franco Pellizotti won the 2012 Italian national road championship.
“I am really happy for more than one reason,” said Pellizotti. “I will race another season and above all with Bahrain-Merida — I [will] return to the WorldTour, which means riding with top cyclists in the world, like Nibali.
“What makes me even more excited is the idea to be part of a new team, to share the enthusiasm of a new beginning with my co-riders and to feel everyone’s desire to achieve something good together. It is the same feeling I had in 2005 with Liquigas, where I also met Vincenzo, Gasparotto and many members of the current staff. I remember that we were a tight?knit group and it’s nice to work with them again.
“Regarding Nibali -- we spent five years together in Liquigas and I saw him growing up. It’s amazing how now I can support him toward his goals, among which is Giro d’Italia, where he will be aiming for his third victory. I will be one of his men for the climbs and my aim is to help him as much as possible.”
Pellizotti turned pro in 2001 and has most recently ridden for Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec team. He served a two-year suspension for what the UCI deemed were “irregular blood values” in his biological passport ahead of the 2010 Giro d’Italia. Ironically, he was replaced on the Liquigas-Doimo Giro squad by Nibali. He was set to rejoin the WorldTour in 2014 with Astana but his contract was nullified as his previous suspension would made him unable to race until May due to Mouvement pour un cyclisme crédible (MPCC) rules.