Basso reconnoitres Tour's Alpine stages
Ivan Basso, 2010 Giro d'Italia winner
Fresh from winning the 2010 Giro d'Italia, Ivan Basso is back in Italy today after a trip into France to reconnoitre the Tour de France's first two Alpine stages. His goal is to drop Alberto Contador in the Tour de France as he did Cadel Evans last month, becoming the first to win the Giro-Tour double since 1998.
"At the Giro I re-found the enthusiasm to ride solo on a climb, dropping the world champion. Now, I am curious to see if the Ivan of Zoncolan and Mortirolo can stay with Contador and maybe put him in difficulty," Basso told Italian paper La Gazzetta dello Sport after riding the ninth stage to Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne.
"The attack on the Tour's podium has truly begun."
Basso and his Liquigas team dominated the Giro d'Italia's stage that took in the Mortirolo and finished at Aprica. He gained enough time to take the pink jersey from David Arroyo (Caisse d'Epargne) and safely face Evans in the final time trial stage.
He completed his second Giro d'Italia since returning from a two-year doping suspension in the autumn of 2008. However, he has yet to return to race the Tour de France, where he finished third in 2004 and second in 2005.
"Looking back, the Tour gave me a lot. I only raced it from 2001 to 2005, so I discovered my love for it before the Giro. Now, I have a huge desire to return.
"This feels as if it is the first training camp of the year. I know only a week has passed since I won the Giro, I could enjoy myself and take a vacation, but I feel that I have to race the Tour and try to win it. I want to do well at all costs because the Tour in my heart."
Basso and team-mate Roman Kreuziger trained on Monday on the last 50 kilometres of stage eight, with the climbs of Col de la Ramaz and the final to Avoriaz (13.6km at 6.1 per cent). Yesterday, they started at 8.30am from Cluses and covered the four climbs heading towards the finish of stage nine in Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne. The day included 3,800 metres of climbing and the Col de la Madeleine (25.4km at 6.1 per cent).
"The first mountain-top finish (Morzine-Avoriaz) is very important. It has always been that way when I raced the Giro and the Tour," said the 32-year-old. "There are only a few more years left that I can race the Giro and the Tour at a high level. Only Armstrong can finish on the podium at age 38!"
Bradley Wiggins of Team Sky will reconnoitre the Tour de France's mountains next. He and some of his team-mates are planning a trip to France next week with coach Rod Ellingworth.