Basso returns to action at Giro del Trentino

Back-to-back crashes at Paris-Nice and the Volta a Catalunya in March have been the main stories of Ivan Basso's stop-start 2012 season so far, but the Italian is hoping to commence his season for real at today's Giro del Trentino - a race he won in 2009. The four-stage event gets underway with a team trial at Riva del Grada in the north of Italy and together with next week's Tour de Romandie, it will form Basso's preparations for the Giro d'Italia, which is less than three weeks away.

"I am thinking of this race as a step forward in my journey to the Giro d'Italia," Basso said at a press conference ahead of the race, where he answered questions alongside his compatriots Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) and Alessandro Ballan (BMC). "The Giro del Trentino and the Tour de Romandie are the races that will decide if I will be competing for the maglia rosa."

The Liquigas-Cannondale rider, who won his iconic home Grand Tour in 2006 and 2010, injured his knee at Paris-Nice in March and then crashed again at the Volta a Catalunya later that month, aggravating that same injury. He has not raced competitively since then, but has spent several days training with his team in the mountains of Tenerife, getting some valuable miles under his belt.

"I see this race a little like my second season debut," he said. "I can't wait to have the perfect rhythm and I have to restore my confidence to the dynamics of a race. The Trentino has some very tough climbs and that will be great for my progress, but keeping up with the best riders will be tough."

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