Basso ready for 2006 Tour challenge

By Tim Maloney, European Editor

With Team CSC's annual survival camp looming at week's end, 2005 Tour de France runner-up Ivan Basso is rested, relaxed and ready for the yearly ordeal that runs from December 2-10. During his November training, Basso has followed the advice of Marco Pantani's former physical therapist Fabrizio Borra to aid some back pain by following a program of exercises carried out in the swimming pool to strengthen his back muscles.

"I've never done this type of program before," he explained, "but this has helped me improve my coordination and increase the strength in my back muscles." Basso's November training program also was on the bike, as the CSC rider who just celebrated his 28th birthday last Saturday has also included cycling. "I've already started doing some riding, but nothing that's worth putting in my training diary yet. But I notice that my training in the pool has helped me to maintain some strength in my legs."

Rather than the traditional road outings, Ivan Basso also enjoys riding in the woods on the trails near his home in Cassano Magnano, Italy. "To ride through the woods is another alternative to riding the road at this time of the year, but I prefer to do this kind of riding on my cyclocross bike rather than on a mountain bike," he said.

Basso was even approached to ride for the Italian national cyclocross team at the upcoming Superprestige race in Milano on December 8, but had to opt out because of his commitments at the Team CSC's survival camp in Denmark. Basso will start his 2006 season at Milano-Torino on March 6, but his primary focus for '06 is clearly the Tour de France, where he was runner-up to Lance Armstrong last July.

After looking carefully at the 2006 Tour de France parcours, Basso declared: "I don't like the Tour course. There's no doubt that it's perfect for Ullrich. But I will also have my possibilities in the Pyrenees and the Alps."

And although it's not currently on his race program, Basso likes what he sees of the 2006 Giro d'Italia. "It seems like a spectacular course; harder than this year's edition and I like the team time trial, too. Sure, some people have complained about the five mountain-top finishes, but that's a nice contrast to the Tour where there are only three."

Once he returns to Italy after Team CSC's annual survival camp, Basso will begin his three month build-up to his first race in early March 2006, but his sights are surely set on the top rung of the Tour de France podium next July in Paris.

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