Ivan Basso traditionally starts his winter training after his birthday on November 26 but the Giro d’Italia winner was back in the saddle on Tuesday as he begins to prepare for the 2011 season and his early season debut at the Tour de San Luis in Argentina on January 17.
Despite the rain, the 32-year-old covered 70km during his ride from Cassano Magnago to Lake Arona, west of Milan. It was his first ride for 20 days after a week’s holiday in an Italian spa resort and only the odd glass of wine.
“I’ve been excited about this day like my son Santiago is excited about Christmas,” Basso told Gazzetta dello Sport. “I didn’t feel great. It hurts but that’s normal. This is the start of a fundamental eight-week block of training. It’s important to build a base to handle the intense work that comes later. At my age I need more time to get into form and so I’ve started a little earlier than in the past.”
Basso changed his race programme to include the Tour de Romandie this year after realising he hadn’t raced enough before the Giro d’Italia. In 2011 he plans to race earlier and more often.
“I’m going to start my 2011season earlier because I took a big risk. I wasn’t very sharp and so had to add Romandie to get up to speed. I’m going to start my season at the Tour de San Luis in Argentina (January 17-23) and my first race in Italy will probably be the Giro di Sardegna (February 22-26).”
Basso will work on his base fitness in the first few weeks, mixing blocks of rides with rest days.
“I won’t do any specific work early but gradually increase the quantity. Each week I’ll do three days of riding and then have a rest day, then two days of riding and another rest day. When I’ve got a good base lid down, I’ll also include some rides on a fixed gear.”
Still with Sassi
2011 will be Basso's third full season after returning from his doping ban for his involvement in Operacion Puerto. He will again work with Professor Aldo Sassi and his team at the Mapei Centre. He will be joined by fellow Italians Damiano Cunego and Riccardo Riccò but Basso insists it is not a problem. Riccò is currently undergoing two days of testing at the Mapei Centre.
“Absolutely not. I’ve got a special relationship with (Mapei owner) Squinzi, Sassi and all the staff at the Mapei Centre. I feel part of the group and when I go into Aldo’s office and close the door, there is a special rapport. He admires me as a rider but especially as a person.”
Basso is expected to target the Tour de France in 2011 but has yet to decide if he will also ride the Giro d’Italia. The Liquigas-Doimo team will hold its first get together at the end of the month in the Italian Dolomites.