Basso on track for third Giro, without Amadio’s magic wand

Liquigas captain limits losses in Giro's opening week and looks ahead to the grind in the Dolomites

LAGO LACENO, Italy (VN) — Ivan Basso is silencing the doubters, those who before the Giro d’Italia questioned his ability to win for a third time. In Rocca di Cambio yesterday and in Lago Laceno today, his Liquigas-Cannondale team rode as a unit and Basso placed well.

“Did you have your doubts? We showed today, just as was predicted, that we are well prepared,” Roberto Amadio, team manager told VeloNews.

“The team is there, it means that Ivan’s morale is high. OK, for sure, he’s still not at 100 percent, but the true mountains are still a week off.”

The 34-year-old Italian began this year’s Giro slightly behind in preparation due to two crashes. In Paris-Nice he crashed and then abandoned with sore ribs. Weeks later, he crashed in Spain at the Volta a Catalunya and banged his knee.

With the setbacks, Basso failed to show well in the Giro del Trentino and the Tour de Romandie earlier this month. Critics wondered if he could win as he did in 2006 or two years ago, in 2010. Those voices have been silenced somewhat.

Liquigas led for most of the climb today to Lago Laceno, where Alex Zülle won in 1998. At one point, Basso had four men leading up the final climb of Colle Molella. After finishing, he covered himself in a warmer jersey and rode to the bus. He showered, dressed and dried his hair.

“I had my doubts too!” he told VeloNews while his hair dried. “They’re erased after this first week. I feel OK and I’m happy.”

Basso placed a decent 35th in the opening time trial and Liquigas rode to seventh in the team time trial in Verona. He lost a few seconds yesterday, but sits just 40 ticks behind overall leader Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda). Roman Kreuziger (Astana) is ahead of Basso by five seconds and Fränk Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan) is eight seconds back.

“I’m happy with my position. I’m OK, in the front with all the competition,” Basso added as his teammates climbed inside the bus with him. “If I win this Giro, it won’t be in these two stages, I [will] win in the last week. My power is in the second part of the Giro. It’s important not to lose time here, which I didn’t. I’m happy.

“My strong point is my regularity. The speed that was needed in this first week won’t win you the Giro in the third week.”

The Tour of Italy changes pace for a few days, with flat stages to Frosinone, Montecatini Terme and Cervere interspersed with the hilly stages to Assisi and Sestri Levante before the race hits the Dolomites on Saturday. That, said Amadio and Basso, is when the two-time Giro champion will see how high his ambitions can reach.

“There were problems ahead of the race and he didn’t start the race at the top. He’s in great shape now, but he can still improve,” Amadio continued outside of the bus. “I don’t have a magic wand, but at this point, Ivan looks ready.”