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News feature, November 6, 2006

Basso arrives in Japan

Ivan Basso talks
Photo ©: Miwako Sasaki
(Click for larger image)

Last week, Italian Ivan Basso, who is deep in contract negoations, visited Japan as a guest of Full Speed Ahead for the Cycle Mode trade show. Miwako Sasaki visited the trade show to witness Basso's popularity in the Far East.

Italian Ivan Basso came to Japan this weekend to visiting to Cycle Mode International 2006, a Japanese bike show. Cycle Mode is one of two bike shows in Japan, held on November 4-5, in Makuhari (near Tokyo). 117 companies and 330 brands joined for this year's show, and, according to the organizer, the visitors for the two days were around 20,000.

This year's Giro d'Italia winner Ivan Basso was invited by Full Speed Ahead to visit and attend events for the show. The former-CSC rider appeared kitted-out in FSA clothing. It was only the second time to visit to Japan for the 28 year-old Italian, "I came to Japan in 1996 for Tour of Japan, as an amateur rider of the Italian national team," he said.

Fans crowded to the FSA booth for autographed posters by Basso. Although the Italian had to autograph hundreds of posters, he always smiled and seemed to be content with his popularity in the Far East.

Ivan Basso appears in the Japanese bike show
Photo ©: Miwako Sasaki
(Click for larger image)

Basso also participated in an on-stage show and Q&A. Cycle Mode is not only a normal bike show, but also an event where the visitors actually can ride a bike. For the event, 633 display bikes were available for testing. But when "Basso Show" started on the stage, it seemed that almost all spectators stopped their riding and gathered in front of the stage.

"Ciao tutti!," Basso said first, and received loud applause. He talked about his victory of the Giro d'Italia this year, about his visit to Tokyo and about his favourite Japanese food. But the Italian never spoke about his problems of 2006 or his new team for the next season. There was only one 'difficult' question for him, about the famous battle with Gilberto Simoni on the Giro's stage 20 to Aprica. "I gave two stages to my rivals in the Giro this year, but the stage of Aprica, I really wanted to win the stage, because my child just born before the stage. He was my first boy; so to win the stage for him was especially important for me," answered the Italian.

Ivan Basso promises to Japanese fans
Photo ©: Miwako Sasaki
(Click for larger image)

Japanese fans were allowed to ask Basso questions, but only 'easy' ones. One Japanese fan asked, "Do you aim to winning Giro-Tour again? And can you surpass Marco Pantani?" Basso answered, "Certainly one of my dreams is the Giro-Tour. But, to win the Tour is very important for my career, and it's also one of my dreams. So after winning the Tour, I'll try to win the Giro-Tour in the same year." Many Japanese fans were content to hear his goals but unaware about his search for a team that will allow him to participate in the Tour.

"After winning the Tour or the Giro-Tour, will you come to the Japan Cup?," was the last question from a Japanese girl. The answer was 'yes.' And to end the event, the Italian said to his numerous Japanese fans "See you again in Japan Cup!"


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Miwako Sasaki

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