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Basso ready for the challenge with the CSC team built for the Tour

Jens Voigt, Bobby Julich, Bjarne Riis, Guy Hains, Ivan Basso, Stuart O'Grady

Jens Voigt, Bobby Julich, Bjarne Riis, Guy Hains, Ivan Basso, Stuart O'Grady (Image credit: Gerry McManus)

2006 Giro d'Italia winner Ivan Basso arrived in London on Monday with manager Bjarne Riis, Jens Voigt, Bobby Julich and Stuart O'Grady. The press conference was the last for the CSC team before the Tour de France starts on July 1. Gerry McManus was there for Cyclingnews.

The 28-year-old Italian star will lead the selected team for next month's race with Carlos Sastre, Fränk Schleck, Giovanni Lombardi, David Zabriskie and Christian Vandevelde joining Julich, O'Grady and Voigt. The obvious surprise was the omission of Paris Roubaix winner Fabian Cancellara. Without any team time trial in the year's event, manager Bjarne Riis has rejected the time trial genius in favour of supporting Basso.

"We have had a great season so far," said Riis: "We are leading the Pro Tour ranking, we won the Giro d'Italia, Paris-Roubaix and the Amstel Gold race. The Tour is coming and our ambitions are there. Ivan is one of the big favourites and it's important that we have a good team around to support him. Our team is strong and competitive, but we will have to see if it's good enough. I believe in it and the team believe in it, and that's the most important thing.

"Ivan will be the exclusive leader and the full team will work for him," Riis continued explaining his team selections: "The one big goal is to win the Tour but that doesn't mean we won't take chances that come up. Carlos Sastre is very important and we will see him lead Ivan into the mountains and he will be ready, that's for sure. Everybody knows Jens Voigt and his qualities. He is a world class rider who is always there. Bobby Julich had a hard Giro this year but finished strongly and I have followed him a lot in the last couple of weeks and have seen the best Bobby Julich I have ever seen.

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