Ivan Basso has left the Tour de France after revealing that he has been diagnosed with testicular cancer. The announcement came during his Tinkoff-Saxo team’s rest day press conference in Pau on Monday afternoon.
Basso explained that the diagnosis came about as an indirect result of a minor crash on stage 5 to Amiens, in which he injured his left testicle. When the pain persisted in the following days, examination from the Tinkoff-Saxo medical staff revealed a lump in his testicle. Following x-rays on Sunday evening in the Tour’s mobile radiology unit, Basso was taken to hospital in Pau on Monday morning for further tests, which confirmed that the lump was cancerous.
“I have a bad announcement to give to you guys,” Basso said. “On stage 5, I had a really small crash but in the crash I touched my testicle on the saddle and for a few days, I felt a small pain. Yesterday we spoke with the doctor of the Tour de France and we decided to go to make a special analysis in the hospital and the examination gave me bad news. I have a small cancer in the left testicle.
“It’s easy to understand that I have to stop and go back to Italy. Our doctor is in contact with the specialist in Italy to fix the operation for as soon as possible. Of course I can’t say more details because we discovered this just two hours ago, but I have to leave.”
Tinkoff-Saxo team doctor Piet de Moor said that he was optimistic about Basso’s prospects of making a full recovery and he paid tribute to the help of the Tour’s medical staff in aiding with the diagnosis.
“Yesterday night before we took the plane we went to the Tour de France truck with the radiologist and he did the examination, and they were very good to organise everything here in Pau so we could go to the hospital to have the full body scan, blood test, everything, and then we got the diagnosis,” he said. “We are still waiting for the results of some examinations but the decision is made. Ivan has to go home as soon as possible to start his treatment. Depending on what’s found, then the further steps in treatment will be decided but for now that’s all we know.”
Reporters had assembled in the cramped conference room at the Mercure Hotel on the outskirts of Pau expecting to hear Alberto Contador discuss his plan of attack as the Tour enters the Pyrenees, but as soon as he entered in the company Basso, De Moor and directeur sportif Steven de Jongh, it was clear that something was amiss.
“We never imagined a thing like this, but now the first thing is to support Ivan and to hope everything will be resolved as soon as possible. I’m here just to give Ivan the full support of the team” Contador said, his voice wavering.
The 37-year-old Basso joined Tinkoff-Saxo this season and is one of five riders on the squad to start both the Giro and the Tour this season as part of Contador’s attempt at a Grand Tour double.
“You can be sure that we will fight for the yellow and to bring him the yellow in Paris very soon,” Contador said. “For me it has been very hard because over the last 180 days, we have spent 120 days together and we have been very close to each other. But I’m sure we will be together soon in Paris to celebrate the Tour.”
Afterwards, Basso was driven from the hotel to the airport by his agent and former teammate Giovanni Lombardi, while Steven de Jongh summed up the mood when he brought the short briefint to a close. “Today is not a day to talk about the race or the coming stages.”