Just as Cadel Evans (BMC Racing Team) bested Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Doimo) on the Giro d'Italia's strade bianche, the Australian world champion won his duel over the Italian Giro winner on the pavé of the Tour de France. Although there are more adversaries for them in July, the duel is on again between the two main pupils of coach Aldo Sassi.
Basso seemed to be one of the losers of the day, but it's not much different from the deficit he faced after stage 7 of the Giro d'Italia in Montalcino when he finished 2:05 behind Evans. When the 20-second bonus Evans earned for winning the stage in Tuscany is factored in, the difference between those two is exactly the same in Arenberg: 2:25.
Evans is now the highest ranked of the Tour favourites in third place behind Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) and Geraint Thomas (Sky), while Basso is 2:41 down on the Australian.
"It's been an extremely demanding day," Basso said. "But we expected it. I can't see it as a positive day, but it's also not too negative. I've had worse times in my career, for example in this year's Giro d'Italia. I'm smiling now for coming home physically safe, but I'm not so happy with losing a bit of time."
Basso's ride was delayed because of a crash that put an end to Fränk Schleck's 2010 Tour de France. The Italian started a new race trying to catch up with groups ahead.
"Unfortunately my teammates Daniel Oss and Manuel Quinziato each had a flat tyre and it took away two important support riders at the end," Basso said. Oss, 23, was a revelation of Gent-Wevelgem when he finished fifth and Quinziato, his experienced compatriot from the Trentino in the north of Italy, is Liquigas' best rider on the pavé in the Spring classics.
"We need a bit more luck in the coming stages," Basso said. "I take note of today's result and I look ahead. In a couple of days in the Alps, I'll find a terrain that suits my characteristics better than today's. I'm very confident to get back the time I lost today."