Basso to lead Liquigas-Cannondale at Giro d'Italia

While Ivan Basso had previously stated he'd wait until the conclusion of the Tour de Romandie to decide if he'd contest the Giro d'Italia, his Liquigas-Cannondale team announced today that Basso will indeed captain the Italian ProTeam at its home Grand Tour, beginning May 5 in Herning, Denmark.

"I wanted to dispel any doubts a day early because my hope and desire to do the Giro are great," Basso said. "I worked so hard to prepare for this event, doing extra work that has kept me anxious to the last. But now I have the confidence to fight for the pink jersey: I'm delighted to say that I'll be there."

Basso's preparation for the Giro has been hampered this spring by a knee injury suffered at Paris-Nice, followed by a crash at Volta a Catalunya which aggravated the injury. Basso is currently in 30th overall at the Tour de Romandie, 35 seconds behind leader Luis Leon Sanchez (Rabobank) in advance of tomorrow's concluding stage - a 16.5km individual time trial.

Basso will be supported at the Giro by a strong cadre of five climbers - Valerio Agnoli, Eros Capecchi, Damiano Caruso, Cristiano Salerno and Sylvester Szmyd - while Maciej Bodnar, Paolo Longo Borghini and Fabio Sabatini will round out the nine-man roster.

"All the boys are in great condition and above all motivated to take a leading role," said Liquigas-Cannondale directeur sportif Stefano Zanatta. "In recent weeks I have felt a great desire [for the Giro] and today we've got confirmation that Ivan will do it. At his side is a team that can support him in the best way.

"The Giro has always been the most important event of our season, we know the pressures and expectations," continued Zanatta. "Riders like Szmyd, Capecchi, Agnoli, Bodnar, Longo Borghini and Sabatini assure us experience both uphill and on flat terrain. Salerno has demonstrated reliability in the mountain stages while Caruso will provide valuable support for the captain and will have the opportunity to and grow and make a quantum leap.

"For the sprints we'll play the Sabatini card: the absence of [Elia] Viviani, unfortunately, is a great loss."

Liguigas-Cannondale roster for the 2012 Giro d'Italia:
Valerio Agnoli (Ita), Ivan Basso (Ita), Maciej Bodnar (Pol), Eros Capecchi (Ita), Damiano Caruso (Ita), Paolo Longo Borghini (Ita), Fabio Sabatini (Ita), Cristiano Salerno (Ita) and Sylvester Szmyd (Pol)

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