Ivan Basso is back in the pink jersey, four years after winning the 2006 Giro.
He took the lead with the help of a united Liquigas-Doimo team but also thanks to the alliance with another rider from Operacion Puerto, Michele Scarponi who won the stage. Basso served a two-year suspension due to his ties to Operacion Puerto but never admitted to have doped despite confessing to blood bags in Madrid that were his.
“Birillo” and “Zapatero” – their respective code names for their relationship with Dr Fuentes formed a three-man move with Vincenzo Nibali and held off the challenge from Cadel Evans and David Arroyo.
In 2006, Basso won the stage to Aprica but he already held the pink jersey and dominated that year's Giro. That year he won the overall classification with a 9:18 advantage over runner up José Enrique Guttierez from Phonak, who would also get caught in Operacion Puerto, and 11:59 over Gilberto Simoni and 18.16 over Damiano Cunego.
“The 2006 Giro d’Italia was a nice part in my career and later there was a nasty part”, Basso said during a post race press conference in Aprica. “The beauty is how I got up again and everything that happened since the day I put myself on my bike again.”
“More than the stage that finished here in 2006, I prefer to think about tomorrow’s stage. It’s a super hard stage coming up before Sunday’s time trial. My position is now significantly better than this morning. The most important thing for me is the serenity and the tranquillity I need for the last two days of the Giro.”
Basso made the assault to the pink jersey on the Mortirolo but lost a lot of time compared to David Arroyo in the downhill. But he doesn’t fear the descent of the Gavia. “It won’t prevent me from sleeping tonight”, he said.
“Clearly I could have gone downhill with the aim of taking more risks but I would have spent too much energy. In all the Giro d’Italia from the past, big differences have been created from Edolo to Aprica, that’s why our strategy was to remain united, Vincenzo Nibali and I. It was the best tactic.”
Basso’s lack of agility has already cost him some time during the 2010 Giro d’Italia. “The most difficult moment so far has been the stage to Montalcino”, he said.
“I was never at ease on the gravelled roads, neither on the second part of the climb to Plan de Corones. I’ll never switch from road racing to mountain-biking, that’s for sure.”
Basso also recalled the hard time he had in stage 11 to L’Aquila when the big names let a 56-man breakaway with Arroyo and Carlos Sastre go. “We underestimated the problem but fortunately, the riders who were concerned by the pink jersey rode for the last 40 kilometres to prevent a total disaster”, he said. “We’ve learnt the lesson. For the last two days, we’ll keep the attitude of a united team.”