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"I knew I'd be up there in Poland. I knew I wasn't finished. It's not time for my pension just yet," Basso tells Gazzetta dello Sport

Photo: Sirotti




05.08.2013 @ 20:38 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Ivan Basso (Cannondale) finished 8th in last week's Tour de Pologne and was greatly encouraged by his good performance. Using the Vuelta a Burgos to fine-tune his condition, he has now set his sights on a podium spot in the Vuelta a Espana.


Ivan Basso has endured a tough time since his Giro win in 2010. In 2011, a major crash disrupted his preparation for the Tour de France and he finished a disappointing 7th. Last year he was back in the Giro but once again a crash-marred build-up made him unable to regain his former strength and he ended up 5th in the race.


This year, all was set for a good performance in the Giro but a few days prior to the race, he had to cancel his participation as he suffered from a cyst. Having recovered, he restarted his season in the Italian road race championships and raced a quiet Tour of Austria in early June before taking part in a high-altitude training camp.


His training has certainly had an effect as the veteran Italian was one of the positive surprises in the Tour de Pologne. The veteran Italian climbed strongly throughout the race and finished with the main favourites in all the hard stages. He finished the race with a solid 22nd in the final time trial, thus securing his 8th place overall.


Many had doubted the Italian's ability to get back to the absolute top level of the sport but now he appears to be on track for his big season target, the Vuelta a Espana which starts in less than three weeks. He is convinced that his performance shows that it's too early to write him off for the Spanish grand tour.


"I knew I'd be up there in Poland," he toldGazzetta dello Sport. "I knew I wasn't finished. It's not time for my pension just yet…"


"It was a pity I didn’t get a chance to win a stage but it's ok. It's more important that I felt good and that I was happy with how I rode. I've put down a good base now. I'm confident I'll be at my best for the Vuelta. Now I'm at a good point, where I want to be."


The race started off with two hard stages in the Italian Dolomites before heading back to Poland for two very long, flat stages, two hilly stages in the Tatr mountains and a final time trial. Due to its toughness, the race was the perfect preparation for Basso's later objectives.


"It was important to be consistently good across the whole seven stages," he said. "It was a hard race. The first two stages in the Dolomites were tough and then every other stage was like a Classic. But I never felt tired and recovered well."


Next up for Basso is the Vuelta a Burgos which starts on Wednesday. The mountainous Spanish race is the traditional warm-up race for the Vuelta and will be important to get Basso's famous diesel engine going for the Spanish grand tour.


"I'm riding the Vuelta Burgos this week and then I'll stay in Spain on Monday August 12 to go and see the Angliru because I've never raced it," he said. "After that I'm going to a mountain training camp at the Passo San Pellegrino in the Dolomites to do some final intensity work at altitude. I leave for the Vuelta on August 21."


Basso may have been the best Italian grand tour rider for more than a decade but that honour has now passed to Giro champion Vincenzo Nibali. The former teammates have a good relationship and there is no internal rivalry among them.


Nibali had a poor showing in Poland but has declared himself satisfied with his current condition. Basso agreed that the Giro champion has plenty of time to find his best legs for the Vuelta.


"I know Vincenzo pretty well and we traveled together," Basso said. "He's not worried about his form. He's had a different build-up to the Vuelta but he didn’t need the Tour of Poland to understand his form. He's a great rider and has had a great season. I'm sure he'll be strong at the Vuelta. It'll be good to watch, there'll be three strong Italians at the Vuelta."


The third strong Italian is - according to Basso - Eros Capecchi who finished 6th in Poland. The Italian is another former teammate of Basso and has had a difficult time after joining Movistar prior to the season. However, Basso is convinced that the Italian will shine in Spain later this month while also working hard to support team leader Alejandro Valverde.


"He's improved a lot, especially in how he races in the difficult moments," Basso said. "He's more mature now and I'm sure he step up at the Vuelta."


The Vuelta starts on August 24 with a team time trial in Galicia.



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