Riccardo Ricco has left France and is heading back to Italy after formally being placed under investigation for “using illegal substances? but has promised he will clear his name and make a come back.

Ricco left Foix, near the Pyrenees, with his girlfriend Vania and her mother in his white Porsche Cayenne after being questioned by a judge for 90 minutes.

He was protected by dozens of police officers as he entered and left the court and was not allowed to talk to the press. When he first arrived at the courtroom he pulled up his hood, looking like any other suspected criminal but then walked head high into the court room.

Still defiant despite spending a night in police custody, Ricco denied taking EPO to the French judge but was a little more hesitant when he spoke to Alessandra di Stefano of Italian RAI television after stopping on the autoroute.

?I?m very bitter. I spent a night in the police station and it was like being in prison,? Ricco said.

?The magistrate listened to what I had to say. They searched my bags but only found some vitamins that we all use and so they decided to let me go home.?

Asked if he had ever used EPO, Ricco said: ?You?ll find out in the next few days. I?m going to see my lawyer tomorrow and we?ll start my defence.

Ricco was not surprised to hear that he had been sacked by Saunier Duval team manager Mauro Gianetti.

?It?s normal, it?s the standard routine of the teams, that?s what they have to do. I?m going to ask for the counter-analysis and then we?ll see.?

Asked to give a message to all the people who had admired him on television when he won stages in the Tour de France, Ricco was defiant to the end.

?I?ll be back and be stronger than ever,? he said.



TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: STAGE REPORTS

Stage 13: Cavendish takes fourth win
Stage 12: Cavendish makes it three
Stage 11: Arvesen wins
Stage 10: Evans takes yellow jersey by one second
Stage nine: Ricco wins in the Pyrenees
Stage eight: Cavendish wins again in Toulouse
Stage seven: Sanchez takes action-packed stage
Stage six: Ricco storms to win
Stage five: Cavendish takes first Tour win
Stage four: Schumacher wins TT and takes race lead
Stage three: Dumoulin wins stage from break
Stage two: Hushovd wins chaotic sprint
Stage one: Valverde wins

TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: NEWS

Ricco speaks on Italian television
Cavendish joins the all-time greats
Saunier Duval sack Ricco and Piepoli
Tour bosses say fight against doping continues
Ricco denies doping at the Tour
Saunier Duval pull out of Tour
Tour’s top ten changes
Ricco positive for EPO at Tour
Analysis: Tour de France rest day summary
Cavendish battles through Pyrenees
Evans suffers but takes yellow jersey [stage 10]
Analysis: Hautacam shakes up 2008 Tour
Ricco silences critics with solo attack in Pyrenees [stage nine]
Cavendish talks about his second stage win [stage eight]
Beltran heads home but doubts remain about other Tour riders
David Millar: the dope controls are working
Manuel Beltran tests positive for EPO at the Tour
Comment: How the Tour rediscovered its spirit
Doping back in Tour de France headlines
Millar: close but no cigar in Super-Besse [stage six]
Super-Besse shows form of main contenders [stage six]
Millar to go for yellow [stage six]
Team Columbia’s reaction to Cavendish’s win [stage five]
Cavendish talks about his Tour stage win
Tour comment: Why Evans should be happy [stage four]
Millar: Still aiming for Tour yellow jersey [stage 4]
Who is Romain Feillu?
Cavendish disappointed with stage two result
Millar too close to Tour yellow jersey
Stage 2 preview: A sprint finish for Cavendish?
Millar happy after gains precious seconds in Plumelec
Valverde delighted with opening Tour stage win
Comment: Is Valverde’s win a good thing for the Tour?

TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: PHOTOS

Stage 12
Stage 11
Stage 11
Stage 10
Stage nine
Stage eight
Stage seven
Stage six
Stage five
Stage four
Stage three
Stage two
Stage one

TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: BLOGS

Life at the Tour part three
Life at the Tour part two
Life at the Tour part one

TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: GUIDE

Tour de France 2008 homepage>>
News and features>>
All the riders (start list, list of abandons)>>
Day by day summary>>
Route & stages>>
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