Ivan Basso took the opportunity of his final race of the year, the Japan Cup, to capture an important personal triumph. It was the Italian's only win of the year after a Giro d'Italia campaign that didn't yield the desired results. Despite looking like he could repeat his win of 2010, the 34-year-old ultimately finished 5th. His win in Japan on Sunday was also his first and only race when he debuted with Liquigas in 2008 and now, four years on, he’s finally won it. Basso outsprinted Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp) and Rafal Majka (Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) for the win after breaking away in the closing laps of the 151km race.
“On a personal note, coming back to Japan four years after I started with Liquigas and winning on the day they say adieu to cycling is something very special that I can’t put into words," Basso said on his team site.
Liquigas is ending their sponsorship of the team at the close of 2012 and it was a fitting way for Basso and his Liquigas-Cannondale teammates to say farewell while taking the team’s 38th win of the year. The team took a number of important victories throughout the season including three national titles, two stages and the overall at Tirreno-Adriatico, five stages at Tour of California, four stages at Tour de Suisse and three stages at the Tour de France plus the points classification amongst others.
The team will become Cannondale Pro Cycling in 2013 and while a number of the team’s biggest winners, most notably Vincenzo Nibali will leave the team bound for Astana, there is plenty of talent in the likes of Basso, Peter Sagan, Moreno Moser and Elia Viviani left to fill the void.
"We really wanted this win and it’s quite emotional. The entire team wanted to honour this race as it was a very significant one for us," said Basso. "It’s a way of thanking Liquigas for the commitment and passion that they brought to cycling. We had a great win today. I might have crossed the line first but it was only thanks to the brilliant work by all my teammates. We’re all really happy, the people have been very welcoming which is fantastic and today is a day for everyone to celebrate."