Italian heavyweights Ivan Basso and Vincenzo Nibali said they will wait to see the route of the 2011 Giro d’Italia before committing on whether or not they’ll contest the Tour de France next year.
The Giro route will be unveiled Saturday, but the Italian pair admitted they already liked what they saw in Tuesday’s presentation in Paris.
“It’s a challenging route, a hard route, a route that’s good for my characteristics,” Basso said. “Let’s wait and see what the Giro holds. I rode the Giro and Tour last year and perhaps I will do the same again. This Tour route is very appealing. The final week is especially hard.”
In May, Basso swept to victory in an emotional comeback to cycling’s highest level in the Giro to close the door on his doping past and his links to the Operación Puerto blood doping scandal. He admits he’ll be under heavy pressure to defend his Giro title, but hinted he could skip the Italian race if Giro route isn’t well-suited for him.
“We have to see how the Giro route is, because there’s the possibility that we could do the Tour and then the Vuelta. Nothing is decided, we have to discuss it calmly,” Basso said. “Of course, I would like to do well again in the Tour. It’s always been the race that’s helped form my career. Perhaps this year is a good opportunity to shine in the Tour again.”
Nibali, meanwhile, is hot off victory at the Vuelta a España and is Liquigas’s second bet for the grand tours. The younger under study has posted two top-10s in the Tour, but skipped this year’s French tour after riding to third in the Giro and then finished off his season by winning the Vuelta.
“This Tour is for climbing specialists, so maybe it’s better for a pure climber like Ivan,” Nibali said. “I am curious to see the Giro. Whatever happens, Ivan and I have no problems being together in the same race. You saw in the Giro last year we are capable of working as a unit. We are stronger that way.”
The pair won two of the season’s three grand tours, but there hasn’t been an Italian winner of the Tour since Marco Pantani in 1998.
Liquigas boss Roberto Amadio said the team is keen to do well in the Tour, but also insisted the Giro is very important to the Italian-backed squad.
“We are team that’s built around grand tours more than classics and we won both the Giro and Vuelta this year, so we’re very satisfied. All that remains for us now is the Tour,” Amadio told VeloNews. “The Tour is important, but the Giro is also very important for us. We are an Italian team with Italian sponsors, so we cannot do something that would hurt our presence in the Giro. We can have a team that is strong in both races.”
Amadio hinted that Nibali could be the team’s choice for the Giro, taking pressure off Basso to focus solely on the Tour.
“Vincenzo’s win in the Vuelta proved he’s up to the task of leading the team. Maybe he goes to the Giro and Ivan bets everything on the Tour, who knows, we have to discuss things,” he continued. “Maybe they both race the Giro and Tour, maybe one does the Giro and the other Tour. We have to see the Giro route and then discuss it calmly. We have a team meeting in December and we’ll decide our strategy.”