It seemed not so long ago that Ivan Basso was firmly placed in the fast lane to cycling stardom, but the window of opportunity to bask in the glory of his Giro d'Italia success was cut short when rumours of Basso's involvement in Operación Puerto became a grim reality. After serving more than half of his two-year suspension, the Italian sat down for an interview with Cyclingnews' Kirsten Robbins.
The 31 year-old from Cassano Magnago, Varese is now less than one year away from a potential return to competition, being eligible to race from October 24, 2008. And according to Basso it will be ten months of time well spent, preparing for whatever professional contract might come his way in 2009. With no races on his plate, the husband of Micaela and father of five year-old Domitilla and two year-old Santiago has been able to spend more time with his family while still attending several weekly cycling functions and charity events as the new face for Intervita, a humanity organisation dedicated to helping orphaned children around the world.
Above all, though, he continues to allocate five hours every day to rigorous training, testing and retesting his wattage numbers against previous data collected. However, the biggest training problem he faces is not the additional two kilograms gained compared to last year, but not having the Grand Tour riders to race against, to push him to his limits. Thus he climbs alone over the twisting Varesine mountains; Cuvignone and Campo dei Fiori, and it has become an increasing mental game with his SRM power meter.
"I'm not riding my bike to be healthy or fit, I like to feel like a rider; I like to make a good test on the climbs and in the time trials," said Basso, enthusiastic to talk about his epic training rides through the mountains. "Training for me is not to go out on the bike and ride two, three or four hours and then everything is OK. There is a schedule that I continue to respect and since I'm more flexible compared to when I used to be preparing for a Grand Tour, I can still be very severe when I'm training because I think that I need to face my bike seriously."
To read the full interview with Ivan Basso, click here.