Thursday, June 18, 2009

A bit of reflection

By: Ivan Basso

Since I last wrote from Florence, the Giro d'Italia finished in Rome and the first half of 2009 ended with a bang on Mont Ventoux last week. It wasn't quite the way I wanted to go out, but now I am enjoying a small break prior to working towards being in the best form for the Vuelta a España.

Looking back from the comfort of my armchair in Varese I believe it was a good return to the big stage races. Considering it was the first Giro d'Italia in three years it was a important test, and I passed! I never had a day where I lost a lot of time, so this tells me there is regularity and that's important for the Vuelta.

My worst day was the day that Denis Menchov essentially won the Giro, the dreaded Cinque Terre time trial. The course may have looked pretty on your television sets, but I think it was the worst of days for me. The time trial was never flat, never straight; it was loaded with curves, descents and changes in rhythm – it really hurt me.

I shot back with a huge show of force on the stage to Faenza. Stefano Garzelli and I worked together with an attack on the Monte Casale. We lasted for about 30 kilometres under baking sun, until Menchov and his helpers brought us under control.

It could have been a decisive day if I had a little bit more luck. The Monte Petrano and Blockhaus stages gave me another chance, but I think I paid somewhat from the Faenza stage.

To tell you the truth, my best possible overall result in Rome would have been a third. I finished fifth, ahead of me was last year's Tour de France winner Carlos Sastre and in third was my teammate, Franco Pellizotti. Franco took the Blockhaus win and stepped up in the classification.

I think I paid for the fact that I rode well and strong for a lot of months, since the Tour of Argentina in January. I arrived at the Giro a little tired, always under the eye of the press since Japan, last October. My head was strong but my legs were a little less fresh than I wanted for the start of the Giro. I had no choice, I had to do that work beforehand because I did not race in the years before.

I have to have a "softer" programme in March and April next year. And that is sort of my approach for the Vuelta a España, I am at zero again and I will build for the Vuelta with calmness.

Ventoux vomiting

My problems at the Dauphiné Libéré last week were sort of a blessing, helping me start from zero. I had a intestinal virus that resulted in a fever and other problems, not what you want when you are up against Cadel Evans and Alberto Contador. In the first days of Dauphiné I had stomach aches and nausea, in the time trial I was feeling so-so and after the Ventoux I vomited – very bad.

Back home, the controls confirmed that I no longer have a virus, but there is still a stomach problem. It will pass after a week or two of easy work on the bike. My next race back will be the Tour of Poland, August 2 to 8.

I will start serious training again in July and then make a trip to train at altitude. I will return for a week at home and then take off to Poland. The last 20 days prior to the Vuelta are still up in the air.

Tour time

I will turn on the television in July like you to watch the battles at the Tour de France. It is hard to say who will win, there are a lot of strong riders. I think that Contador, Lance Armstrong, Cadel Evans, Fränk and Andy Schleck, and Carlos Sastre are the favourites.

My teammate Roman Kreuziger has lots of talent and he will certainly finish with the top riders. He is a phenomenon and nothing is impossible for a rider like him. He could also win if the race develops in a certain way. He will be one of the biggest riders in the next years.

It will be a great Tour de France and we will have fun watching from our armchairs! I'll check back with you prior to Poland.


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