In a press conference during the rest day of the Giro d’Italia Ivan Basso has reiterated his confidence in Liquigas-Cannondale's tactic that has been highly criticized in the past few days. The team in green has never had the pink jersey but always rode in defence as if it was the case. However, the double winner of the corsa rosa (2006, 2010) has yet 1:22 to recover from race leader Joaquim Rodriguez.
“Whoever is ahead of me totally deserves it”, said Basso about his Spanish rival. “He has conquered his advantage in all possible occasions. He rode a good prologue, an excellent team time trial, and he has attacked where the terrain suited his characteristics. He hasn’t made any mistake. From my side, I have only played in defence and I always arrived with the strongest riders. I can still beat Purito but not in a 7km climb last yesterday. A lot has been said about our way of racing, but we have to accept the criticisms. They’re part of our profession. [Directeur sportif Stefano] Zanatta from the car and Ivan Basso on the bike have combined forces to put Basso in the best conditions for winning the Giro where the truth will come out, which is in the high mountains where the greenery is absent.”
The Lombard believes that the big battles are yet to start with three hard stages in the Dolomiites. “Big battles mean that only four or five riders remain together, we haven’t seen that yet”, Basso said. “So far, we’ve been too many for a difference to being created. I have the maximum respect for Rodriguez, [Ryder] Hesjedal and those who aren’t far behind me on GC. I’m telling you the truth: I’m not thinking about the other riders, I want to find the best racing conditions for the best Ivan to be in action on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. I have to work on my strengths. I’m truly very optimistic. It’s been a very unique Giro, very tiring every day. It’ll make the last week very hard.”
Basso was realistic when he noted: “If Rodriguez keeps going as well as up to now, he’ll win the Giro. I believe that the Dolomites will be another story. In a climb like Passo Giau, lucidity is important. I don’t take too many risks in the downhills because I have three children. But these days, I’m racing with a great serenity. At the head quarters of the Liquigas-Cannondale team, it’s also very quiet. It won’t be the end of the world if we don’t win the Giro. We just want to finish it with no regret and no reproach.”
Basso was adamant that he’s not riding the Giro d’Italia for the last time at 35. “I’m going to race for another few years”, he said. “I don’t see many young riders who can take me away from my dream of winning the Giro again. I’ll fight for the pink jersey for another two or three times. The Tour de France is a different story. It’s more complicated. In my career, I owe a lot to the Tour de France. It remains a dream to get the yellow jersey but I have to be realistic as well. If the level here begins at 100, at the Tour, it’s… 100 and something… I’m at a point of my career where serenity counts above all. You know that my career has had a few hiccups. But I am a happy man and that helps to achieve great things.”
At the start of the Giro d’Italia in Denmark, Basso said that he’ll also ride the Tour de France at the service of Vincenzo Nibali, no matter what and even though “the shark” is considered an outgoing rider at Liquigas-Cannondale with a high possibility that he’ll ride for Astana next year.
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