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Ivan Basso has placed the entire focus of his season on returning to the Tour de France podium, this time on the top step in Paris. To do so, Liquigas-Cannondale’s two-time podium finisher will of course have to contend with the man he says is the only rider in the sport capable of the Giro d’Italia/Tour de France double.
“I think Contador can win the Giro and the Tour together,” said Basso. “I’m not a reporter of magic, but I think it is possible, and at that moment the only one is Alberto.”
Basso entered 2011 planning to ride the Giro, which he won for the second time last year, in support of his younger teammate Vincenzo Nibali. A two-week break from racing after illness forced him out of the Tour of the Basque Country kept Basso from pinning the number one on his back at his home tour, however.
The late Marco Pantani was the last rider to win the Giro and Tour in the same year, at the age of 28 in 1998. At 28 years old, Contador has won each race multiple times (two Giros/three Tours), but not in the same year.
Basso, 33, said that peaking for both the Giro and Tour is something suited to younger riders and pointed to Nibali among the top young stars in the sport. But, he said, Nibali, winner of the 2010 Vuelta a España, was not ready to win the two premier grand tours in the same year.
“We have a lot of good young riders with Nibali, (Robert) Gesink, Andy Schleck,” he said. “We have a lot, a lot.”
When asked about Contador’s ability to continue his streak of six straight grand tour wins next month in France, particularly after a Giro many called the hardest ever, Basso said, “It’s never impossible.”