Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale) slipped to 8th overall in the Tour de France on l’Alpe d’Huez, and immediately after crossing the line, the Italian cited his May training crash as a contributing factor to his disappointing third week.
Basso crashed while training on Mount Etna in late May, suffering facial injuries and struggled in the build-up to the Tour but emerged unscathed from its hectic opening week. After appearing to be among the strongest of the overall contenders in the Pyrenees, however, Basso faded in the Alps, where he had expected to come to the fore on its long ascents.
“It didn’t pan out the way I expected in the second part of this Tour,” Basso said after stage 19. “In the end, losing out on ten days of work in May, which is a crucial month for preparation, made itself felt in the third week and on the third consecutive day in the mountains.”
Basso spent much of the short stage to l’Alpe d’Huez attempting to chase back on to the group of overall contenders after Alberto Contador’s (Saxo Bank-Sungard) early raid on the Col du Télégraphe put him in difficulty. Although Basso made the juncture on the descent of the Galibier, he was dropped again on the early slopes of l’Alpe d’Huez.
“Today was a very hard day for me,” Basso admitted after crossing the line in 15th place, 2:06 down on stage winner Pierre Rolland (Europcar).
“I tried to defend myself as well as I could. Now there’s just the time trial. Obviously it was one of the most difficult days for me, but at least I was able to fight right until the end.”
In spite of his disappointment, Basso at least able to enjoy the scene on the twenty-one hairpins of l’Alpe d’Huez.
“It’s like a vertical stadium, it’s a legendary mountain,” Basso said. “I’ve been here a few times with the Tour, and I think that it’s certainly a very beautiful day for all the riders who finish here, from the first to the last.”