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Basso: It's not time for my pension just yet

Ivan Basso left the Tour of Poland with a smile on his face and the confidence that he is on track to do well at the Vuelta a Espana.

The veteran Italian was forced to miss the Giro d'Italia due to a nasty, golf-ball-sized saddle sore, and spent more than a month off the bike. He has since been working hard, setting himself the goal of a podium place at the Vuelta .

While fellow Italian and Giro d'Italia winner Vincenzo Nibali struggled in the mountains stages at the Tour of Poland, Basso was consistent on every stage, finishing 1:38 down on overall winner Pieter Weening (Orica-GreenEdge) More importantly he recovered well and is motivated for the Vuelta.

"I knew I'd be up there in Poland. I knew I wasn't finished. It's not time for my pension just yet…" Basso joked while speaking to Gazzetta dello Sport after returning home to Italy for a few days.

"It was a pity I didn’t get a chance to win a stage but it's ok. It's more important that I felt good and that I was happy with how I rode. I've put down a good base now. I'm confident I'll be at my best for the Vuelta. Now I'm at a good point, where I want to be."

"It was important to be consistently good across the whole seven stages. It was a hard race. The first two stages in the Dolomites were tough and then every other stage was like a Classic. But I never felt tired and recovered well."

Basso enjoyed some time with his family and recovered from his efforts at his home near Varese. However he will travel to Spain to ride this week's Vuelta Burgos to clock up more racing days before the Vuelta.

"I'm riding the Vuelta Burgos this week and then I'll stay in Spain on Monday August 12 to go and see the Angliru because I've never raced it," he explained.

"After that I'm going to a mountain training camp at the Passo San Pellegrino in the Dolomites to do some final intensity work at altitude. I leave for the Vuelta on August 21."

Basso on Nibali and Capecchi

Gazzetta dello Sport has highlighted the contrast between Basso's good form and Vincenzo Nibali's poor performance at the Tour of Poland. The Giro d'Italia winner was never competitive and often lost huge chunks of time in the mountain stages.

Basso and Nibali raced together at the Liquigas team, with Nibali learning many of his stage race skills from Basso. In 2010 Basso won his second Giro d'Italia, with Nibali finishing third overall. Nibali is now Italy's best Grand Tour rider and Basso seems past his best. However there is little or no rivalry between the two and rumours are circulating that Basso could even join Nibali at Astana as a key road captain and teammate. As a result, Basso insisted that Nibali will find some form in time for the Vuelta.

"I know Vincenzo pretty well and we traveled (back from Poland) together," Basso said.

"He's not worried about his form. He's had a different build-up to the Vuelta but he didn’t need the Tour of Poland to understand his form. He's a great rider and has had a great season. I'm sure he'll be strong at the Vuelta. It'll be good to watch, there'll be three strong Italians at the Vuelta."

Basso explained that the third Italian to watch at the Vuelta will be Eros Capecchi, another former Liquigas rider, who is with Movistar this year.

"He's improved a lot, especially in how he races in the difficult moments. He's more mature now and I'm sure he step up at the Vuelta," Basso predicted.

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Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and Cycling Weekly, among other publications.