Ivan Basso of Team Liquigas has opted not to defend his Giro d'Italia title in 2011, looking instead to win next year's Tour de France. On Friday, his 33rd birthday, he revealed to La Gazzetta dello Sport that his team and himself had already decided that Vincenzo Nibali, winner of the 2010 Vuelta, will be Liquigas' leader at the Italian Grand Tour.
"If I won the Giro d'Italia I would be on a special list of three-time winners, but the yellow jersey would give a special light to the two pink jerseys I already have at home," Basso told the newspaper ahead of the official team presentation in Milan on January 10.
Basso, who already won the Giro in 2006, will make the Tour his main season objective - and he doesn't want to ride the Giro just for training. "To go slowly through the Dolomites would be offending the fans," he added.
Luckily, the Italian top team has another Grand Tour winner in its ranks, who will be honoured to take up the challenge of winning the maglia rosa: Vincenzo Nibali. The 2010 winner of the Vuelta a España finished third behind his captain Basso at this year's Giro, also winning a stage.
"Vincenzo is maturing and is no longer a little kid. As he showed at the Vuelta, he can win the Giro," said Basso.
Liquigas will meet in Passo San Pellegrino in the Dolomites for a first team camp next week. A second meeting will then be hald from December 9-22 on the Italian island of Sardinia. The first race for Liquigas will be the Tour Down Under in Australia, starting on January 16. Basso will start racing at the Tour de San Luis on January 17.