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"It's an important decision. It's perhaps more of a natural choice to stay at Lampre-Merida but all the offers are interesting but carry different roles and responsibilities," Scarponi's agent Raimondo Scimone tells Cy...

Photo: Sirotti








09.10.2013 @ 16:06 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Michele Scarponi is one of the few big-name riders that hasn't signed a contract for the 2014 season. His agent Raimondo Scimone has informed Cyclingnews that he has offers from four different teams and that he will make a decision on his future when his season has come to an end at Saturday's Giro dell'Emilia.


Most of cycling's biggest names have announced where they will ride in the 2014 season but one name is missing from the list. Michele Scarponi, winner of the 2011 Giro d'Italia, still hasn't made up his mind on where to continue his career.


Scarponi served a three-month ban during the winter months due to his involvement with banned doctor Michele Ferrari. When he was free to ride, co-sponsor Merida of his current Lampre-Merida team was worried by any negative publicity and Scarponi had to enter lengthy negotiations with his team to be allowed to return to racing. Reportedly, the agreement included a reduced salary and a decision that Scarponi had to leave the team at the end of the season.


He went on to have a good season where he finished 4th in the Giro d'Italia, 3rd in the Volta a Catalunya, 5th in Liege-Bastogne-Liege and 15th in the Vuelta a Espana and would have made it into the top 10 in both Paris-Nice and the Tour de Suisse, had he not been hampered by bad luck. He won the GP Costa degli Etruschi one week prior to the world championships where he was the rider that prepared Vincenzo Nibali's final attack.


Those strong results may now have convinced Lampre-Merida to keep their star rider as they are in need for a rider to lead the team in their home race, Giro d'Italia. They have signed world champion Rui Costa to spearhead the squad in the Tour de France but would benefit from Scarponi's presence on home soil where he would make up a strong duo with Przemyslaw Niemiec who finished 6th this year.


According to Scarponi's agent Raimondo Scimone, Scarponi has received an offer from his current team but he is apparently a desired rider. Scimone confirms that Scarponi has to decide between offers from Cannondale, Astana, Europcar and Lampre-Merida.


"Michele is targeting the final Italian races of he season and then I hope he makes a careful decision on his future," Scimone told Cyclingnews. "It's an important decision. It's perhaps more of a natural choice to stay at Lampre-Merida but all the offers are interesting but carry different roles and responsibilities. He'd be the team leader for the Giro d'Italia in almost every team but if he joined Cannondale he'd be joint team leader with Ivan Basso. At Astana he'd probably lead the team at the Giro and then help Vincenzo Nibali. But they've been rivals for many years and so it'd be an interesting change in Michele's career."


Scarponi had hoped to perform well in Sunday's Il Lombardia but had to abandon the race due to stomach problems. Originally, he was only slated to ride the Giro dell'Emilia this week but due to his shortened race on Sunday, he has decided to add tomorrow's Coppa Sabatini to his schedule.


"In my race programme, my participation in Giro dell'Emilia was scheduled," he said. "On Sunday, I suffered from illness and so had to rest for some days. My good feeling are back and after consulting with the medical and technical staff, I have decided to add Gp Peccioli-Coppa Sabatini to my programme. I think I can be useful for the team, especially in trying to support [Diego] Ulissi who could be very competitive on this course."


After the Giro dell'Emilia, Scarponi will make up his mind on his future.



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