Although he was unable to take any time out of race leader Lance Armstrong, making overall victory in this year's race an increasingly unlikely prospect, CSC team manager Bjarne Riis was upbeat about Ivan Basso's performance today. The Italian rode aggressively throughout the stage, going clear in the final stages with Lance Armstrong and Jan Ullrich, staying in touch when the German was dropped and then taking third.
"It was exactly what we'd hoped for," said Riis afterwards on team-csc.com. "We knew that Basso has been doing well for the last couple of days, and maybe we've underplayed our role a bit, to take off some of the pressure. We tried to attack Lance, but as always he's very strong."
Basso moved from fourth to third today as a result of the pressure put on Frenchman Christophe Moreau. He starts the 15th stage 2'46 behind Armstrong. While he will aim to attack again in the mountains tomorrow, the evidence of today's stage suggests that it will be a tough task to distance the Texan. Getting time out of TT powerhouse Jan Ullrich may be his primary aim; as thing stands, the German is just 1'48 off Basso's podium place. While the CSC rider has made improvements against the clock this year, he will be keen to build a bigger buffer between himself and the former world time trial champion.
Riis told Belgian TV1 that they hope for good things tomorrow. "We'll see (how it goes). I hope Ivan will be good then, we'll try. You can see he was good today. We will stay calm and try to attack at the right moment."