Saturday, July 2, 2011

Interview - Ivan Basso

Ivan Basso got caught up in the crash on stage 1 with two km to go but managed not to lose any time (except for the three seconds to Cadel Evans) to the other favorites thanks to the 3 km mark rule. Here is what he had to say about this ambitions for the Tour this year. Enjoy...

Ivan, thanks for taking time. How did your Tour-preparation come along after your crash on Etna? Are you on the right track?
The crash of Etna took me precious time, but, luckly I had one month to recover. I run Dauphine as training, then I had some mountain training at Passo San Pellegrino. I ended it with a really good feeling and sensation. Of course I had no opportunity to check my shape in a race, but I’m sure to have done everything to be at the top level. The best Ivan Basso you’ll see on the mountain.

Compared to your condition winning the Giro last year, how good are you right now?
As said, before the Giro I had a confrontation in race, this time I don't have that. But my technical info and feeling say that I have the same good shape. I’ll need some stages to find race rhythm but on Pyrenees and Alps I want to be at the top level.

You won the white jersey back in 2002. You have ended 3rd and 2nd in Paris and last year you showed your strength by winning the Giro again. With your experience and results, will you consider anything but a spot on final podium to be disappointing?
Of course, after taking 2nd and 3rd, I need only the 1st to complete. I face this Tour aiming for the best results and I want to end it and be sure I have been spent 100% of my forces. I know that I’m ready, I know that I can compete with the bests. The route will be the judge.

The last many times you have been the leader in a Grand Tour, you have had great riders like Carlos Sastre, Roman Kreuziger and Vincenzo Nibali to help you in the mountains. This time your Tour-team seems a little bit weaker than normally, do you agree?
No, I don't agree. It’s true that we don’t have a co-captain but the team is suited for this route. Together with me I’ll have strong distance riders able to maintain good rhytm in flat stages and medium mountain, then in hard mountain I have a team mate like Szmyd. An added value will be the motivation: sometimes you can find more energies in mind that in legs. You’ll see during the team time trial how strong is Liquigas-Cannondale.

Speaking of Nibali. He was one of Contador’s biggest rivals in the Giro this year. Have you been talking with him before the Tour about how to beat Contador?
We usually phone each other during the season and we did that as well before the Tour. But there’s no secret or suggests to beat Contador. I know that I need 3 days in the Alps similar to the performance of last year on Zoncolan to beat him on mountain.

It’s a given that Contador and Andy Schleck are the two biggest rivals for the yellow jersey, but who else do you think will be up there to fight for the podium this year?
Well, Alberto and Andy are one step above the others, but I see a huge group of pretenders in really good shape for this Tour. Evans, Gesink, Van den Broeck, Wiggings, Sanchez… it will be a closed and strong competition!

Last question. If you had to pick, what you would take; a stage win in the mountains or a spot on the final podium?
Well, I would like to be on the final podium thanks to a stage victory in the Alps: can I choose this option? (smiling)

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