Ivan Basso to Ride Next Year's Tour de France
Liquigas' Ivan Basso, who was third at the Tour de France in 2004 and second in 2005, will return to cycling's biggest race next year following a four-year absence.
Former Giro d'Italia champion Ivan Basso will return to the Tour de France next year following a four-year absence.
Basso, who finished third and second in the 2004 and 2005 Tours behind seven-time champion Lance Armstrong, was not allowed to start in 2006 following his involvement in the Operation Puerto blood doping scandal.
Basso will likely be one of the three Liquigas team leaders next July.
"I have the most experience of us for the Tour," Basso told Cyclingnews. "Franco (Pellizotti) will not race for the classification and our two young guys (Vincenzo Nibali and Roman Kreuziger) will join me on the team. They will have more freedom if I am there with the big stars."
The 32-year-old Italian returned to racing this season after serving a two-year suspension. He finished fifth at the Giro and fourth at the Vuelta.
Basso will start his 2010 season at the Volta a Catalunya from March 22-28.
"The journalists always looked to confirm that I had returned to my top form this year," he said. "I had form, but I was never able to be calm. With a year of racing, however, I am calm and secure."
Basso, who is currently working on modifying his position on the bike in order to gain precious time in the time trials, said his main rivals will be defending champion Alberto Contador and Armstrong. The cancer survivor will bid for an eighth victory in the grueling three-week race with his new team, RadioShack.
"More than the cobblestones in the first week, I am worried about Contador, who will be just as strong," Basso said. "I'm convinced Armstrong will have 15-20 percent more of his old feeling back, but then so will I."