Basso focused on being Contador's super domestique in Giro-Tour double

Italian puts off talk of retirement as he joins Tinkoff-Saxo

Ivan Basso has put aside any talk of retirement and told Cyclingnews that he can be Alberto Contador’s super domestique in the Spaniard’s quest to win the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France double.

Basso, 37, moved to Contador’s Tinkoff-Saxo squad at the end of the season and has enjoyed two training camps with the team in recent months. After seven years within the Cannondale-Liquigas set up, the move also sees him return to Bjarne Riis, for whom he rode for between 2004 and 2006.

“There was no real talk of retirement because I had another few possibilities and I wasn’t ready to really stop,” Basso tells Cyclingnews.

“I let my heart lead me and it has led me here. I have been friends with Oleg [Tinkov] and he wanted me in his team with Bjarne for a long time. I had a couple more options at WorldTour, working for other leaders like Alberto, but I wanted to come here.”

A two-year deal was signed and ratified after the transfer window opened in August and Basso has tried to put behind him what has been a difficult period in his career in terms of results. The 2010 Giro d’Italia winner struggled for form and fitness, slumping to 15th in this year’s edition of the race. And after a poor 2013, in which he failed to finish a Grand Tour, it looked as though the Italian might call time on his career.

“This year I tried my best, I had the best preparation but something went wrong. This year wasn’t to my standard but it’s not just about age, it’s not just about the results, it’s also about what you feel inside. If inside you feel like you can’t support the pressure on you and you’re not in the same place as you were in the past, then you have to change your goal.”

“I don’t have to change too much though. For me, it’s been physiological and you find yourself in that situation slowly over time,” he says, referring to his age and drop in performance.

With Contador gunning for the Giro and Tour double, Basso has taken the role of elder statesman on the team and along with Michael Rogers will form the core of Spaniard’s support. It’s a new role for the veteran Italian but one he believes that he can perform.

“But I don’t have to change my mentality too much. If I want to help Alberto I need to be in the front of the races when there are not many people there. That’s not changed and to help him I need to be a super, super domestique on the race and off the race but I need to be super team leader for all the young riders as well. That’s important, to make sure they do want Tinkov wants because he wants us to be the best team in the world. To be the best in the world you need to be the best with all the small details.

“If you’re strong and you’re in the front of course you still have some good situations but that’s almost secondary because I’m here for another focus and that’s to help the team win.”

Basso was a rival when Contador attempted the Giro and Tour double in 2011. The Italian skipped the Giro and rode the Tour that year, finishing in eighth with Contador in fifth. Basso believes that Contador is the one rider who can attempt the two races back-to-back but admitted that it would be harder if his main rivals attempted just the Tour.

“As a spectator, my opinion is that if all the top GC decide to ride the Giro and the Tour and they all target the win then Alberto is the favourite for both races. If Alberto rides the first and the second and someone only rides the Tour, then that’s more difficult, but that’s just my opinion. I’ve never really rode close to Alberto. Sometimes in France and then now in training camps. He’s a Hors Categorie champion, he does his job and he takes care of all the small details as if he was a neo-pro and that’s the biggest difference. If you’re a big talent and you do everything right then it all makes a big difference.”

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