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Brighter days ahead: The Ivan Basso Diary
Ivan Basso is back to racing after a forced rest of two years due to his involvement in Operación Puerto. The Italian, winner of the 2006 Giro d'Italia, looks to set the records straight and prove himself stronger than before while giving Cyclingnews' readers an inside look at his training and racing.
Back from a 16-month suspension, Basso ended his ban at the Japan Cup, October 26. He finished third in a close finish behind Damiano Cunego and Giovanni Visconti. The result was promising and Basso hopes there will be even brighter days ahead in 2009. Stay tuned as he recounts his journey back to the top of the sport.
April 21, 2009
Back in Italy
Ciao to everyone at Cyclingnews and all the readers worldwide. It has been a great two weeks since I last wrote a diary and it is only around 20 days until the start of my season's objective, the Giro d'Italia stage race.
I returned Saturday [April 18] from the Spanish island of Tenerife, the place now famous thanks to Lance Armstrong's winter training camp. I passed a good 14 days together with my teammates training at altitude. Pellizotti, Stangelj, Miholjevic, Carlström and Szmyd joined me on the trip.
It was a time to get in some work, but also to stay together as a team like we did earlier in the year at the Benicàsim camp. We always headed out on our training rides together, but with each of us having different variations depending on our form.
Though it is a small island, every day we were able to ride a different route. Pellizotti and Miholjevic were there a few months ago and so they knew the island roads well. We were able to do some interesting rides, climbs and flats.
Some days I rode for up to nine hours. Usually I do not take an iPod, and fortunately, for these long ones there was Carlström with me to pass the time and chat about life. In addition, there is always something beautiful to see on the horizon – it is a beautiful island.
Though it is a tourist spot traffic is not so bad. When we got away from the lowlands we had a lot of peace and could really focus on our training.
Sweet home Varese
I had a nice weekend with my family at home, relaxing ahead of another tough week. It will be essentially my third week of hard training: I returned Saturday, today [April 20] we previewed the team time trial route in Venice, I will race the Giro del Trentino from Wednesday to Saturday, then fly immediately after the race to Belgium for Liège-Bastogne-Liège Sunday. Trentino and Liège back-to-back will be a huge demand on my energy, but I look forward to it because it is a good physical test, to put my body under the stress of day-to-day racing.
I don't expect a result in those races; I think it is still too soon to reap the benefits of Tenerife. Will I win a stage in Trentino? It is hard to say if I will be the favourites, I have just come back down from altitude and so it is an unknown.
Team time trial
It was good today in Venice – always a magical city. It was my third time there to try the 20.5-kilometre team time trial course and I am now very familiar with it. We were able to hit it hard three times, thanks to the help of local police who blocked the course. We did it a fourth time, but only to spin out the legs.
It is always important to win when there is a chance in the Giro d'Italia. If we start well it will help our morale. Liquigas is a team that has always done well in the time trial: a win last year in the Vuelta a España and two years ago at the Giro d'Italia. It's obvious – sending the riders to Venice, having the police block the road – the opening day will be important to us.
I was also able to fit in parts of the San Martino di Castrozza stage and the Alpe di Siusi stage in these days. After those: basta, I have seen all of the stages and I am ready for the start on May 9.
I know that everyone has been focused on Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders, but not me. There was not good coverage of the Classics in our hotel or I was just too tired to follow. I know Roman Kreuziger and Vincenzo Nibali did well in Amstel Gold. I can tell you that they are both strong riders and have a big future ahead of them, you already caught a glimpse of that at the Tour de France last year.
It will be the same for Flèche Wallonne Wednesday, unfortunately. I will not be able to see any of it because I will be racing Trentino. However, I think I have a good idea of who will be the strong riders for Liège regardless – they are always the same 10 or 12 guys.
I think that these races and the work I have done – in Argentina, California, Tirreno-Adriatico and Tenerife – will certainly produce results in the Corsa Rosa. We will find out soon enough, talk to you later.
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Images by Sirotti/www.sirotti.it