Italian Ivan Basso will battle for the Tour de France’s podium over the next four days in the Pyrenees. The battle is an easy one, considering the one he has already won: acceptance from his colleagues and the race’s organisers.

Basso left out of the backdoor of his team’s hotel on the eve of the Tour de France four years ago in Strasbourg. The Operación Puerto investigation in Spain finally caught up with him and linked him to blood doping doctor, Eufemiano Fuentes.

“I am happy with the acceptance of the organisers, Christian Prudhomme and Jean-François Pescheux,” Basso told Cycling Weekly. “I am in love with this race, it gave me a lot and they were good to me since day one this year in Rotterdam.”

Since leaving his hotel in Strasbourg, Basso received a two-year ban for the bags of blood he had stored in Fuentes’ offices. After first denying, he served out his suspension and then came back a changed man with team Liquigas. Now, he works with respected cycling trainer Aldo Sassi and the two post his blood values online for transparency purposes.

Basso finished in the top five of the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España last year, and now, after winning this year’s Giro d’Italia, has returned to the Tour de France.

The Tour de France did give him a lot: the white jersey of best young rider in 2002, a stage win in 2004 and twice on the podium behind Lance Armstrong (third in 2004 and second 2005).

“Ivan paid his price and he also paid for the other riders. He’s returned as an open book,” said Liquigas sports director, Stefano Zanini. “We have found support from both the fans and organisers.”

Zanini revealed that Basso was stressed in the first days of the Tour de France. He said it was the same as win Basso made his return to the Giro d’Italia last year.

“Everyday there it was an exam, how would he do on the first day, the first mountain stage, the first time trial… It is like that at the Tour too; he just didn’t know how the people would accept him.”

Basso’s battle is no longer for acceptance, though. He wants to place on the podium in one week’s time in Paris.

“The battle for this Tour is between two riders: Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck,” continued Basso. “I am not sure about [finishing on] the podium, but I have to continue to believe it is all possible. There still four difficult stages to come, where anything can happen.”

Ahead of the four stages in the Pyrenees, Basso sits 11th overall, 5’30″ behind current leader Schleck.

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Charly Wegelius pulls out of Tour



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Tour de France 2010: Stage reports



Stage 13: Vino returns to top of Tour after doping ban



Stage 12: Rodriguez wins as Contador attacks



Stage 11: Cavendish bags third stage win but lead out man kicked out of Tour



Stage 10: Cavendish bags third stage win but his lead-out man is kicked out of race



Stage 10: Paulinho claims narrow stage victory on Bastille day



Stage nine: Casar wins stage as Schleck and Contador go head-to-head



Stage seven: Chavanel wins stage and takes overall as Thomas drops out of Tour’s white



Stage six: Cavendish makes it two as Tour hots up



Stage five: Cavendish wins his first stage of Tour



Stage four: Petacchi wins into Reims



Stage three: Hushovd takes dramatic win; Thomas second on stage and GC



Stage three live coverage: As it happened



Stage two: Comeback man Chavanel takes victory in Spa



Stage one: Petacchi wins in Brussels as bunch left in tatters



Prologue: Cancellara pips Martin to win

Tour de France 2010: Photos



Stage 13 photo gallery



Stage 12 photo gallery



Stage 11 photo gallery



Stage 10 photo gallery



Stage nine photo gallery



Stage eight photo gallery



Tour 2010 wallpaper



Stage seven photo gallery



Stage six photo gallery



Stage five photo gallery



Stage four photo gallery



Stage three photo gallery



Stage two photo gallery



Stage one gallery



Prologue photo gallery

Tour de France 2010: Videos



Stage 13 video highlights



Stage 12 video highlights



Stage 11 video highlights



Stage 10 video highlights



Stage nine video highlights



Stage eight video highlights



Stage seven video highlights



Stage six video highlights



Stage five video highlights



Stage four video highlights



Stage three video highlights



Stage two video highlights



Stage one video highlights



Prologue video highlights

Tour de France 2010: Race guide



Tour de France 2010: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index



Official start list, with race numbers



Brits at the Tour 2010



Tout team guide



Tour jerseys: What they are and what they mean



Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Wiggins

Tour de France 2010: Pictures



Tour team presentation, Rotterdam



Tour teams take to the cobbles: Photo special

 

  • arronski

    Yet another doper!

  • martin

    the bottom line here is: cheating is a risk worth taking because if you get caught, all you need to do is say you’re sorry, take holiday, then you’ll be welcomed back with open arms

    so he posts his blood results online and uses an ‘approved’ doctor

    do you trust that? I don’t