By Gregor Brown
Snow forced Ivan Basso to train off-road as he builds form prior to his 2009 debut in Argentina. The Team Liquigas leader starts his first full season since 2005 at the Tour de San Luis, January 19 to 25.
"Cannondale gave me a mountain bike with profiled tyres, so I used it to my benefit. I rode two hours on my mountain bike and then in the afternoon one hour on the trainer," Basso said to Cyclingnews.
Basso is a favourite to win the Giro d'Italia this May and won the three-week Italian stage race in 2006. This season will be his first attempt at the race since his suspension for his links to the Operación Puerto doping investigation.
Basso made his return at the end of last year with the Japan Cup where he finished second to Damiano Cunego. Over the winter he has improved his form and he will race the Tour de San Luis, Tour of California and Tirreno-Adriatico as part of his lead-up to the Giro, May 9 to 31.
"I don't want to go over my limit racing in Argentina as it is too early in the season but I’m looking forward to the training. My condition needs to build slowly in Argentina, then to California and Tirreno."
The Tour de San Luis is a seven-stage race. Five other European teams – ISD, Andalucía Cajasur, Diquigiovanni, Fuji-Servetto and Saxo Bank – will join team Liquigas.