Giro champion impressed with spectator turnout
Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Doimo) crashed after 55 kilometres of racing in stage 1 of the Tour de France. David Millar, too, hit the tarmac with Basso but both riders got back on their bikes and finished the stage.
"It happened because of a dog who run into the peloton and I didn't see him coming," Basso told Cyclingnews after crossing the finish line. "Another rider crashed in front of me but I couldn't avoid him. There were other crashes at the end of the stage but I had no problem with it. I came home safe."
Despite crashing in the Tour's first road stage, the 32-year-old Italian was in good spirits as he stepped onto the his team bus. "It was a very competitive stage today but it was a great spectacle also from the bunch," Basso said. "For us, to watch all these enthusiastic people alongside the road was fantastic. I wouldn't say that I've never seen so many spectators before because the crowd in the first three days of the Giro d'Italia was great as well. But I have a special feeling for this Tour de France."
Basso said at the end of this year's Giro d'Italia that his suspension in 2007 and 2008 has made him think a lot about himself and his career. Anything he does now as a cyclist he appreciates more than before the troubles he experienced through Operacion Puerto. "The ice is finally broken," he said after completing the prologue in Rotterdam on Saturday in 72nd position, 55 seconds down on Fabian Cancellara, a gap he predicted.
"Believe me, I have enjoyed the day before the start of the Tour de France like I didn't when I rode it for the first time in my career," Basso wrote in his column for Il Giornale. "At the worst times of my suspension, I thought many times about how my comeback would be. In reality, the question to myself was: will I go back to the Tour one day? And the answer was: no.
"Pessimism was dominant in my mind. Then the wind has changed direction. And I'm happy to be back here. For a cyclist, to back go the Tour is like for an artist to go back and perform at the Olympia in Paris. I'm here for dreaming a bit more."
Basso has a good reason for dreaming as he believes history can repeat itself. In 1973, Luis Ocaña crashed because of a dog during stage 1 of the Tour de France, also on Dutch soil. The Spaniard rebounded from the incident and went on to win the only Tour de France of his career that year.