By Tim Maloney, European Editor
With six weeks to go before the Giro d'Italia, Ivan Basso of Team CSC has been doing recon on some of the key Giro climbs this week. Basso is taking a page from Lance Armstrong's playbook, as he's already checked out the Firenze time trial course during CSC's Tuscany training camp in January and the steep ascent of Sammomme' near Pistoia after Tirreno-Adriatico. Although there is still considerable snow in the mountains of Alto Adige, Basso hit the road earlier this week to look at the climbs of the Giro stages 11 and 13.
With Bjarne Riis in the CSC team car behind, the young Italian put in a couple of long days in the mountains, telling La Gazzetta dello Sport's Gigi Perna afterwards, "We started in Canazei and climbed the Passo Sella and Passo delle Erbe, which has some steep sections in the middle and is quite hard. When we descended back down in the valley, the next climbs were impassable, so I managed to do another 70 km on my time trial bike." On the course check of stage 11, Basso will ride the last 70 km of the stage, including two ascents of the steep 10 km ascent of Passo Duran. Basso continued his thoughts, saying "this trip will help me see the critical points of the key mountain stages."
Next week, Basso's Giro homework continues in western Italy, where he will check out the Giro's final time trial on stage 18 from Chieri to Torino over the Superga climb and the next day's stage 19 to Sestrieres, that includes the potentially Giro deciding climb of Colle delle Finestre (18.5km, average gradient 9.2 percent with last 7.2 km on gravel).