After a wind-buffeted and crash-strewn opening week of the Tour de France, Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale) is lying in 13th place overall, 1:03 off the yellow jersey of Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervélo).
Although pleased to have survived this far with his podium ambitions still intact, Basso admitted that it is impossible to truly assess his form and that of the other contenders until the race reaches the Pyrenees on Thursday.
“I think that the sensations up to now don’t count for much because we haven’t really had very many climbs, just a lot of stress,” Basso said at Super-Besse after stage 8. “Sunday is another very difficult stage and I think there might still be bad weather, so I’ll have to ride like I have been doing in the last few days, at the front of the peloton. Then next week, the heat and the climbs will make the difference.”
Basso managed to stay with Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-SunGard) and Andy Schleck (Leopard Trek) on the final climb to Super-Besse, but although pleased with his performance, the Italian acknowledged that such a short ascent was not a true indication of how the Tour will pan out over the course of three weeks.
“It was another good day for me,” Basso said. “But it was only 800 metres of climbing, so it doesn’t mean an awful lot. We haven’t seen anything yet, save that all of the overall contenders are close to one another.”
Unsurprisingly, Basso picked out Cadel Evans as the most impressive of his rivals on the climb and said that BMC’s efforts on the front of the race were a sign of their confidence in their leader. “Cadel Evans has shown himself to be the one who is most in form and he had his team working all day,” Basso said.
One stage shy of the first rest day at Aurillac, Basso agreed that it had been an exacting opening week to the Tour, but explained that such a state of affairs is par for the course in the French race.
“There are no easy stages at the Tour de France, the one to Paris is probably the easiest,” Basso said. “But that’s the beauty of the Tour, there’s an incredibly high level of competition, and you can’t take anything for granted.”