Ivan Basso left Paris on Monday afternoon with his wife and family to head home to Italy following a failed attempt at Tour de France glory after winning the Giro d'Italia in May.
He had hoped to fight for yellow in his first Tour de France since serving a ban for doping, or at least take home a stage victory or podium place. But bronchitis in the Pyrenees and fatigue from the Giro left him way down the general classification in 32nd place, 59:33 behind overall winner Alberto Contador (Astana).
Yet he was just happy to be back and promised to return in the future, even if he is entering the final years of his career.
"I'm not happy with my overall result - that's for sure - but I'm happy to have ridden the Tour de France after a five-year absence," Basso told Cyclingnews.
"To be honest, I don't think I could have done better than a place in the top 10 overall. I was a little tired after winning the Giro, but I wouldn't give up my pink jersey for a place in the top 10. Denis Menchov won the Giro last year and was on the podium at the Tour de France this year. Contador dominated last time but suffered a bit this year. I don’t think it's crazy to think I can fight for a place on the podium."
"I'm tired now, but it was important for me to ride the Tour again and it was nice to get a warm welcome from the organisers and the public. If the Giro closed the door on a difficult two years for me, then the Tour was the start of something new."
Basso refused to be drawn on if he will target the Giro and the Tour de France in 2011. The Giro will again be his first major objective but the Tour holds a special place in his heart.
"Now is not the moment to think about 2011. I need a break first," he said. "But even though I'm 33, I believe I can ride both in the same season and get results in both. I'm only riding some criteriums and the Italian one-day races in August and then my season will be done. I'll start thinking about 2011 after I've fully recovered from 2010."