Italian driven by his conscience in 2011
Ivan Basso clocked up 100km in training on Christmas Day and is ready to cover another 40,000km of racing and training in 2011.
The Italian stage racer has hinted that he will target both the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France next season and reaffirmed his promise never to cheat again. He made the promise to his coach Aldo Sassi, who recently died of a brain tumor.
Basso turned 33 on November 26 and has been racing since he was seven. But he told the Italian La Repubblica newspaper just before Christmas that he still feels full of enthusiasm and ready to clock up hours and hours in the saddle.
"Cycling is my thing, it's my life. Getting out on my bike is never a problem," he said.
"When I wake up I still think how I can improve as a rider. You understand when you've had enough of racing: For a rider it's when you don’t give it your all in a test or when you ease off the pedals when you're out training. It's if the cold or the wet gets to you. That's a sign but things like that don't happen to me yet. I hope to race until I'm 40. I lost two years for the doping problems and I want to make up for that."
Giro and Tour likely in 2011
Basso is proud of his 2010 season is hoping for similar success in 2011, perhaps with a first yellow jersey the biggest goal of all. He won his second Giro d'Italia in May but then suffered with illness at the Tour de France in July this year.
He is still convinced he can ride and target success in both races in the same season. And that's why he will clock-up so many kilometres on his bike in the next 12 months.
"Except for the sad death of Aldo (Sassi), who was a father figure and a special friend to me, it's been a happy winter because it came after a great season," Basso said.
"Winning the Giro was a kind of liberation for me. It closed the door on a long five years. It was a huge win even if it affected the rest of the season."
"(At the Tour) I didn't ride as I'd hoped, probably because the Giro was so hard with the wet stages and after the stage to L'Aquila (when he lost five minutes to Arroyo and Porte) we had to go on the attack and chase. I paid for that. But I'm still convinced you can do it (ride the Giro and the Tour).
"For now both are in my plans for 2011. The grand tours are decided on the climbs. And so if the Giro is hard, it's hard for everyone. So far I'm fitter than I was last winter. I weigh less and I've got a lower fat percentage, the tests prove it. It's going to be a very hard season but I'm ready for it."
Following his own conscience
Aldo Sassi always insisted that Basso 's victory at the Giro d'Italia was believable and done cleanly, producing numbers and physiological data to confirm his claims.
Basso always tries to avoid talking about doping in interviews. He claims he only has to live with his conscience and not consider the opinion of others, who perhaps still doubt him and his past.
"I'm not going to proclaim anything. I try to talk with what I do," he said when asked by La Repubblica if cycling really has changed after years of doping scandals.
"I promised Aldo: I'll never cheat again. I mean that with all my heart and I'll do it. But it's a complex world. Some people understand that quickly, while others need more time. There's also a group of people that I don't consider (who will never understand). But if you really look at yourself in the mirror, you have to do the right thing. Follow your conscience."
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