By Andrew Hood
Ivan Basso might be pegged as the man to replace Lance Armstrong in the peloton’s power structure, but it appears the Italian won’t be taking a page out of the Texan’s playbook this year. Armstrong was known for his methodical, precise preparation for the Tour de France, with training camps that kept him away from the racing scene during a good part of the season. Armstrong typically would arrive to the Tour with only about 20-25 days of racing in his legs. It appears Basso likes bumping shoulders in the peloton just as much as intense training. According to Tutto Bici, Basso will be among the field lining up for the Italian semi-classic, Milan-Torino on March 4.
Basso is already committed to racing Milan-San Remo and the Giro d’Italia on home roads.
Whether Basso’s extensive racing schedule will pay dividends in July remains to be seen. Last year, Basso bounced back from sickness in the Giro (where he won two stages but fell out of contention with the stomach flu) to finish second to Armstrong in the Tour.
Team CSC, meanwhile, will start its season at the Tour of Qatar later this month, with Stuart O’Grady and Fabian Cancellara set to lead the team. Petacchi starting early
The fastest legs in the peloton will get an early workout this year as Alessandro Petacchi eyes a February start to his 2006 season.
Petacchi will debut his new Milram jersey Feb. 4 at the GP Costa degli Etruschi. Then he’ll stretch his legs in a hunt for some early-season scalps at the Ruta del Sol and Tour of Valencia on the sunny roads of southern Spain later that month. Millar to join SD teammates to California
Saunier Duval riders will be hitting a wind-tunnel in San Diego after competing in Februray’s inaugural Tour of California. Joining them for the aerodynamic testing will be David Millar, who’s set to return to the professional peloton in late June.
Eight Saunier Duval riders will make the trek to California for the February race and then take advantage of mild weather near San Diego for training and wind-tunnel testing with bike sponsor, Scott.
Todociclismo reported that Gilberto Simoni, Koldo Gil and José Angel Gómez Marchante will be among the riders testing new positions and materials in the San Diego wind-tunnel. Set to join them will be Millar, currently serving a two-year racing ban after a police search found empty EPO vials in his apartment. Millar, who was later stripped of his 2003 world time trial championship, is expected to start the Tour de France for the Spanish team.