By Kirsten Robbins in Solvang, California
Italian Ivan Basso was forced to pull out of the Tour of California before the start of the stage six time trial held in Solvang. He had an unfortunate accident while pre-riding the course early Friday morning, resulting in an injured left knee.
"I'm not very bad but I'm not very good either," Basso told Cyclingnews. "The problem was very simple. I did the course for training and I hit my knee on the aero bars. I could pedal the rest of training but my knee was getting bigger and very warm and I could not feel it."
Basso damaged his the right side of his left knee. Chief medical doctor Ramin Modabber informed Basso that he had a severe hematoma and possible tendonitis. "I took some medicine for the pain but the doctors told me that continuing on my bike would be dangerous for my knee," said Basso who was told to take three days off the bike. "I have a lot of inflammation and it is very risky."
Basso felt that if he could have participated in the time trial he may have been able to finish with a good performance. "I feel very bad because I wanted to continue because it is a fantastic race. But I think to do this time trial with my leg in this condition, it may have gotten worse."
Liquigas' leader at the Tour of California was using the race as the second phase of a three-tiered training program designed to improve his fitness before the Giro d'Italia in May. He admitted that he would not have ridden faster than riders like Levi Leipheimer, Dave Zabriskie or Michael Rogers but the event would have given him a good indication of his conditioning.
"My expectation was to do fantasitc time trial," Basso said. "I feel good in the last days and I could do well, not the best, but good. My form is not really one hundred percent."
Basso will stay in the United States for an undetermined amount and continue to see his team doctor for physical therapy. "I have a good orthopedic doctor here at the race so I will see him and then make a plan to go home."