Basso won the Giro d'Italia in 2006, before he was implicated in Operacion Puerto and banned for blood doping, and again in 2010 after his ban.
He will be 37 in November and has so far failed to show that he has the form to compete with the likes of Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and even fellow veteran Cadel Evans (BMC). Yet Basso is not concerned. He has become almost Zen-like in his approach to racing in the final years of his career. He still clocks up the hard miles in training and accepts whatever results he manages to achieve.
"An intelligent athlete knows his place and should be able to understand his own limits, so he can try to overcome them. You need that so you don’t get flattened by the passing of time, by the end of a moment in your life," he told Gazzetta dello Sport.
"Why should I have gone to the press conference? What could I have said? I know I'm not at my best but I think I can find a different role. Otherwise I'd be stupid and pathetic if I said I was hoping to win. I know that things have gone differently so far this year."
"I know that people think I'm past my best. I hope it's not true. I'm not riding well but my conscience is clear. I'm still ambitious. I want to have a good Giro. I think I'm competitive and we'll see exactly how much very soon. The Giro always motivates me."
Out of contract
Basso's contract with Cannondale ends this season. The US-sponsored, Italian-registered team is facing a watershed moment, with Peter Sagan also set to decide if he stays with the team or moves on. The team is likely to be revolutionized for 2015 and that could mark the end of Basso's time in green and in the peloton.
He admits he has been reflecting on his future and does not know if he will be racing in 2015.
"I don't know, we'll see," he said.
"I've thought about it a lot and I'm not sure what will happen but a lot will depends on what happens in this race," he said.
"I don’t want to look back. I'm not interested in saying in my career I won this race or that race. I also don’t want to look too far ahead. Whatever happens, it won’t be a problem to reach an agreement with (Cannondale team manager) Roberto Amadio."
I've done the training
Basso has spent time on Monte Teide at altitude and then raced the Giro del Trentino and the Tour de Romandie. He failed to make an impact in both races, losing time on the key climbs and the overall classification but hopes he can find a vein of form in the vital third week of the Giro d'Italia.
Cannondale has hired former HTC and Katusha coach Sebastian Webber for 2014 and Gazzetta dello sport has pointed the finger at his training methods several times. But Basso does not blame his new coach.
"Some parts of my training has changed but that's not the reason why I'm not riding fast. There's no time to look back, it'd only cost me energy that I need or the race. I can take heart from the fact I'm healthy. I'll give it everything in the race and accept whatever the road decides."
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