Basso loses time to GC contenders

The most notable absentee from the first group of 12 riders that crossed the line 20 seconds after stage winner Koldo Gil was Team CSC leader Ivan Basso. His team gave him an armchair ride to the base of the Sammommè climb, putting him in a perfect position up front, but one kilometre from the summit, Basso inexplicably dropped off the pace, eventually losing half a minute to the group containing new maglia rosa Danilo Di Luca.

Explained Basso on the team's website, "The backside of my left thigh suddenly cramped up. It really took me by surprise, as I'd been able to keep up no problem until then. The team worked hard to split the peloton, and of course I'm disappointed about being dropped.

"I had a puncture just before the penultimate climb and was forced to change my bike. As it turned out, the new bike had a different saddle than the one I'm used to, which is why I got cramps. It was very unfortunate, but at least I wasn't dropped due to lack of strength. When the cramps disappeared, I was able to take some long turns in the pursuing group in order to reduce the gap to the leaders, and I felt very strong. I have to accept the fact that I lost some valuable time today, but this only makes me even more motivated for tomorrow's time trial," he said.

"It was bad luck Ivan getting those cramps, cause right up to that point, everything was going according to plan," added team manager Bjarne Riis. "It was obvious that he was very strong on the Sammommè climb, and that only makes the fact that he was dropped so much worse. It's not a disaster though, and considering the shape he's in, he'll be able to make up for lost time along the way. Already tomorrow will present him with a golden opportunity."

27 year-old Basso goes into tomorrow's stage placed 10th overall, at 1'27 to Di Luca.

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