Ivan Basso is convinced he can take on Alberto Contador and finish somewhere on the podium at the Tour de France after he showed he was back to his best by winning the Giro d'Italia.
Basso spent Monday and Tuesday checking out the finish of stage 8 of the Tour de France to Morzine and stage nine to Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne with teammate Roman Kreuziger. He then immediately headed to a Liquigas-Doimo altitude training camp in the Italian Dolomites, confirming that he has come out of the Giro motivated and hungry to ride the Tour de France.
"My attempt to finish on the podium at the Tour has begun," he told Gazzetta dello Sport after the trip to France.
"The first mountain finish of the Tour is very important. It always has been in all my Giro and Tour rides. I know these mountains but it was important to see them again with Roman. We talked a lot during the seven hours of riding we did and it was very important."
Basso claimed his Giro d'Italia victory allowed him to put his ban for blood doping behind him and look optimistically to the future and the final part of his career.
The start of this year's Tour de France in Rotterdam on July 3 will mark the end of his four-years Tour exile. He left the 2006 race via a back door after being implicated in Operacion Puerto. Now he wants to return with his head held high.
"Looking back, the Tour de France has always meant a lot to me. I focused totally on the Tour between 2001 and 2005," he said.
"Now I want to go back to the Tour and I'm very motivated to do well. It's only just over a week since I won the Giro but it feels like I'm at the first training camp of the season. I could have sat back and enjoyed my Giro win and come back in 2011 but I really want to ride the Tour and try to win it."
At 32, Basso knows time is running out for him to target both the Giro and Tour in the same season. He also knows that he is on form and his confidence is sky high after winning the Giro d'Italia.
"I know I can only go for the Giro-Tour double for a few more years. Time is precious. Only someone like Armstrong can get on the podium when he's 38," he said.
"At the Giro d'Italia I rediscovered what it's like to attack alone and drop the world champion. Now I'm curious to see if the Ivan of the Zoncolan and the Mortirolo can stay with Contador and perhaps cause him some problems."