Ivan Basso flew into London this morning ahead of the Tour of Britain, set to start on Sunday in Ipswich. The Italian will help lead team Liquigas-Cannondale and enjoy a golden age in British cycling.

“Great Britain in these last years has had a tremendous amount of growth, enough to make any nation envious,” Basso told Cycling Weekly. “I’m talking about the Olympics, Sky, [Brad] Wiggins, everything that it’s done.”

Basso is a seasoned pro with two Giro d’Italia wins to his name, but will race in Great Britain for the first time. He will be joined by travelling companion, Damiano Caruso. The two raced the Tour of Colorado together last month, where Caruso placed second and third in stages.

In its ninth year, Basso still does not know how to read the eight-day race. The Tour of Britain varies from week-long stage races such as the Critérium du Dauphiné or Tirreno-Adriatico, but serves its purpose nonetheless as Basso hopes for a strong season’s end.

“The season started of very badly for me, with two crashes in March, which compromised the Giro d’Italia and also set me back for the Tour de France. I couldn’t race the Tour how I wanted to,” he continued.

“I’ve never raced in Britain. The race is particular, where there’s not a queen stage. I’ll race at the front, race well and race as a protagonist.

“These new races, like Colorado, have odd places in the calendar. Everyone knows what Tirreno is helpful for or that the Dauphiné is good for the Tour. These races are new, but they don’t lack quality riders.”

Basso did not say he would win an autumn classic, but he wants to make sure he is fit to race and the Tour of Britain will help. After the final stage in Guildford, he will continue his season through the Japan Cup on October 23.

“It’s going to be important work that will allow me to have a good showing in Milan-Turin, the Tour of Piedmont, the Giro dell’Emilia, the Tour of Lombardy and the Japan Cup.”

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Tour of Britain 2012: Coverage index