Basso the next Tour winner?

"Two days in a row I have attacked, everywhere it was possible. Lance was suffering, at least I like to think so, but even so he doesn't give in. On the highest cols I can't ride away from him and Lance is a better time-trial, so how can I win the Tour?" Ivan Basso told the press after a weekend of hard labour.

"I gave everything today; I want to leave my mark on this Tour de France," said Basso on the CSC corporate website. "I attacked as hard as I could, but Armstrong was able to follow. I didn't have another attack in me, so we rode together to try to put time on (Jan) Ullrich and the others. The past few years some critics were saying that I'm merely able to follow on the high cols. But that's not right."

Ivan is certainly profiling himself more and more as a future TdF winner. But he knows, it won't be for this year: "Lance is stronger, basta," Basso told Belgian Newspaper HNB.

"I think I was the strongest in both stages, but in the end I come out of this weekend with an extra 6 seconds behind Armstrong. But I'm happy with the way I'm descending now. I took some time out Ullrich, Rasmussen and Mancebo. I'm getting that bit closer to the podium in Paris again, and I might even finish one step higher up than I was looking at earlier in the race.

"But, that second place in the GC is not secure. There is still a lot of racing to go. I would like to get more time on Ullrich (fourth at 5:58 back) before going into the final time trial. It's too bad I wasn't at my best at Courchevel because I lost some time there that might come back to haunt me, but otherwise I am happy with how this Tour is going.

"I want to thank my teammates. They really rode as one block and executed our strategy to the letter. I'm also very happy that I've been able to prove that it is not impossible to ride well in both Giro and Tour. Only on the first day in the Alps, on Courchevel, I missed a bit of climbing rhythm because of the break I had after the Giro d'Italia. The only disappointment of this Tour is that we didn't get to win the team time trial because of the unfortunate crash of Zabriskie.

"Of course, I thought of Casartelli here, but I do that almost daily. Fabio is still riding with us in this peloton. We (Lance and I) didn't get the time to talk about him though, the tempo was too high for that."

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