“Scarponi is a really good champion,” Basso told Cyclingnews ahead of the second stage of the Tour of Beijing. “Every good rider and champion is welcome in the team. Cannondale have been a top team in the world for many years, so the management know very well who is good to bring into the team to make it the best.”
Scarponi is out of contract with Lampre-Merida this season and his options for 2014 are believed to include re-signing with the team or moving to either Cannondale or Astana.
Since the departure of Vincenzo Nibali at the end of last season, Basso has been the sole grand tour contender for Cannondale. A perineal cyst ruled him out of the Giro d’Italia just 48 hours before the start in Naples, however, and Basso’s only grand tour in 2013 was Vuelta a España, where he withdrew with hypothermia on stage on stage 14.
Basso and Scarponi have long been rivals and have both won the Giro d’Italia for their respective teams, after previously serving suspensions for their links to Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes. Basso won the race in 2010 (having already claimed the 2006 edition), while Scarponi was awarded the 2011 title after the original winner Alberto Contador was stripped of his title following the retroactive application of a doping ban.
Despite this, Basso believes that the two riders could work together. “We are professionals, so we know how we have to ride. I have ridden with many champions in my career and I know what I have to do.”
Tinkoff and Cannondale
There is increasing speculation that Tinkoff Credit Systems will be a co-sponsor of the Cannondale team next season, although the squad is yet to confirm the news. Oleg Tinkov has been looking for a new investment in cycling since ending his partnership with Bjarne Riis at Saxo-Tinkoff and is understood to have been in talks with Cannondale.
Tinkov has been a contentious character within the cycling world, not least for taking to Twitter to air withering criticism of Alberto Contador’s performance at this year’s Tour de France, but Basso remained diplomatic when asked about the Russian’s possible involvement with the team.
“I’m a rider, so I’m not in the management,” said Basso, after considering his answer at length. “I think, at the moment, when a sponsor comes to cycling or into the team then they are welcome. Cycling is a fantastic sport and I think all of the sponsors coming in will help to make a fantastic sport for us and for all the people who love the sport.”
Cannondale have filed paperwork with the UCI for the 2014 season, but an official announcement is yet to be made.