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Basso throws no stones at Armstrong

Basso may not have seen ESPN documentary LANCE yet, but spoke fondly of former rival Armstrong in recent interview.

As two-part ESPN series LANCE has turned the spotlight back on Lance Armstrong and his tumultuous years at the top of the Tour de France, many from that generation have been asked to chime in. And while some remain skeptical of anything the American has to say, others are not.

Longtime Italian rival Ivan Basso, cited by Armstrong in the show, responds sympathetically to his one-time nemesis.

“Frankly, I didn’t see the documentary. For my part, I can only say that I am and will always be grateful to Lance because he has always behaved with me not only well, but very well,” Basso told the Italian daily Il Giornale on Wednesday. “When my mom, Nives, got cancer, he bent over backward to help us out. Same thing when the problem touched me in 2015. What can I tell you, with me, he was really generous and helpful.”

Basso of course had his own problems with doping and was expelled before the start of 2006 Tour de France for his involvement in Operacion Puerto.

“I have done many beautiful and less beautiful things in cycling,” Basso said. “In 2006 I was involved in the Operacion Puerto, and for this I was turned against the wall: I confessed my faults and I paid with a two-year suspension. From heaven, I ended up in hell. Now for over fifteen years, I have been working hard in the world of cycling. With Alberto Contador, we manage a team of kids, and in the world of cycling, we have many other interests. We try to make our contribution so that this sport can be better.”

Returning to Armstrong, Basso said simply, “Lance was a force of nature, he would have won always and in any case.”