Following a week of riding criteriums and celebrating his victory at the Giro d'Italia, Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Doimo) begins his preparation for the Tour de France today, heading to the French Alps, to study two key mountain stages.
Basso will spend two days in the Alps studying the climbs of stages 8 to Morzine and then stage 9 from Morzine to Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne. Today he is expected to study the Col de la Ramaz (14.3km at an average of 6.8%) and the climb to Morzine (13.6km at 6.1%). Tomorrow he will ride the four early climbs during the 204.5km of stage 9 and study the Col de la Madeleine (25.5km at 6.2%) before the descent to Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne.
Basso has confirmed that he won't ride another stage race before the Tour de France but will spend time at altitude immediately after his trip to the Alps and only ride two one-day races later in June. He is convinced it is more important to focus on training and recovering as much as possible from the Giro, rather than ride the Tour de Suisse.
"I'm going to train at the Passo San Pellegrino with some teammates between June 9 and 23. I'll only come down from there to ride the GP Nobili on June 19 and the Italian national championships on June 26," Basso told Gazzetta dello Sport.
"I raced very little in the first part of the season before the Giro and that will be an advantage. But you can never relax too much after a big race. I enjoyed my win with my family for a few days after the Giro but I quickly got back to being a rider again. There are only five weeks between the Giro and the Tour but time flies and so we'll soon be in Rotterdam."
Despite the huge effort needed to win a Grand Tour, Basso is convinced he can challenge Alberto Contador in July.
"To win a Grand Tour you have to go well in time trials and in the mountains, and have a good team. I think Contador is currently the best climber in the world and in the top three time trialists in the world, behind Cancellara. If he doesn't have a bad day or if you're unable to use the team to your advantage, it's almost impossible to beat him," he said.
"However I think I can do an excellent Tour de France. I think the Giro has done me good. Doing the Giro and Tour in the same season is tough and can cost you something but it's worth the risk. I'm happier to start the Tour after winning the Giro rather than being fresher. I'm confident about my form and the strength of my team."