The joke writes itself: Italian supercoach Also Sassi has brain cancer, now he has a parasite.
Several months ago, the new that convicted doper Riccardo Ricco had hooked up with Sassi was greeted in some quarters with derision and disbelief.
The well-respected coach of Ivan Basso, Cadel Evans and Damiano Cunego, a man who insists his athletes ride clean, decided to take on the man Mark Cavendish labeled a “parasite.
“I know that with [Riccò] I would risk my reputation but sometimes you have to step up for an important objective,” Sassi said during the World Championships. “If somebody doesn’t do it and doesn’t believe in this sport, how can things change?”
Whatever your tag of choice — cobra or parasite or just egoistical bozo, Ricco now claims he has turned over a new leaf. Ricco told cyclingnews that “The Cobra is dead! You don’t believe me? It’s true…”
We at Twisted Spoke say, why not? The new leaf is his, in fact, he can have the whole tree. We firmly believe that Ricco is ready to ride without the rocket fuel and the reason to believe is Sassi.
It’s our contention that Ricco was a young and confused and lost and immensely talented rider. He needed a real coach, a steadying influence and most of all, a father figure. In fact, Ricco’s young son could also use a father figure but one thing at a time. (The long-nosed and sadly beautiful Vani Rossi is on childcare for the foreseeable future.)
Based on his statements to the press, Ricco is well aware what he’s committed to with Sassi, the debt he owes the man and the large responsibilities he has accepted.
“I definitely feel very a big responsibility towards Aldo, with what he’s going through. I really need to honor him on the bike,” he said. Those are beautiful words, the right words and we expect that Ricco is going to turn some heads this season.
“I have big objectives and Aldo can help me to achieve them – it’s that simple. When we had our chat, we spent next to no time talking about doping. There was no need – I was very clear on that score from the start,” said Ricco.
Ricco is a hungry rider, an amazing climber who wants to prove himself on the highest mountains of the Alps and Pyrenees. Unlike the aging and weird Michael Rasmussen, he’s got massive potential and with the right team and Sassi bringing him into form, he’s going to make headlines.
Fighting a losing battle with cancer, Sassi told Ricco “I have a life expectancy that goes as far as July, you’re my last gamble.” We think it’s a gamble that’s going to pay big.