Liquigas-Cannondale confirms Ivan Basso to lead in the Giro d’Italia
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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Liquigas-Cannondale confirms Ivan Basso to lead in the Giro d’Italia

by Ben Atkins at 5:40 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia
 
Two-time winner fit enough to aim for a third victory; Vincenzo Nibali staying home to prepare for the Tour

ivan bassoLiquigas-Cannondale has announced its nine-man team for the Giro d’Italia, which starts with a prologue in Herning, Denmark, on May 5th, confirming that two-time winner Ivan Basso will be targeting a third victory. The 34-year-old from Gallarate, Lombardy, has long expressed a desire to target this year’s Corsa Rosa, but a series of crashes this spring put his preparation behind schedule.

Basso is currently riding the Tour de Romandie this week, to both hone his condition and determine his own readiness. He was not due to announce his intentions until after tomorrow’s final time trial but, following a strong performance in the race’s biggest mountain stage, he has declared himself ready.

“I decided to dispel all the doubts one day early,” Basso affirmed, “because the feelings during the Tour de Romandie were what I expected and I’ve put in a lot of extra work to prepare this event.

“Now I have the confidence to fight for the pink jersey,” he added. “I’m really happy to announce that I will be there.”

Basso’s presence in the squad means that last year’s runner-up Vincenzo Nibali will be left at home. The Sicilian is basing his season around an attempt at the Tour de France anyhow, but he had expressed an interest in riding the Giro in preparation. Instead, the entire team will be built around delivering a third maglia rosa for Basso, to go with those from 2006 and 2010.

“In terms of athleticism and character we’ve got the best possible line-up to manage a difficult race like the Giro,” explained directeur sportif Stefano Zanatta. “All the guys are in terrific condition but above all they’re highly motivated to race as main contenders.

“Over the past few weeks I’ve noticed how they have a massive desire and are very proud to be part of this team,” he continued. “Today we understand that Ivan is in form; we will support him in the best way. The Giro has always been the main race in our season, and we’re aware of the pressures and expectations. We know they’ll leave the task of managing the race to us in many cases so the group’s unity, cohesion and camaraderie will be crucial factors.

“Riders like [Sylwester] Szmyd, [Eros] Capecchi, [Valerio] Agnoli, [Maciej] Bodnar, [Paolo] Longo Borghini and [Fabio] Sabatini guarantee us experience on the climbs as well as the flat,” Zanatta elaborated. “[Christiano] Salerno has proved he is reliable on the mountain stages, as has [Damiano] Caruso; he’ll be invaluable support for the captain and have the chance to grow and improve the quality of his riding.”

In addition to Nibali, another big Liquigas-Cannondale name missing from the green and blue team will be sprinter Elia Viviani. The 23-year-old was almost unbeatable in the early weeks of the season, but fractured his pelvis in a crash while riding the Omnium in the World track championships in Melbourne, Australia, earlier in the month.

While the prognosis was not as serious as first thought, the rider from the Veneto has apparently not recovered sufficiently to take on the three-week challenge.

“We’re backing [Fabio] Sabatini for the sprints,” said Zanatta. “Unfortunately Viviani won’t be racing and this is a great loss.”

Should Basso succeed in taking a third victory, he would join Gino Bartali, Giovanni Brunero, Felice Gimondi, Bernard Hinault and Fiorenzo Magni on the list of three-time winners.

Liquigas-Cannondale team for the Giro d’Italia
Valerio Agnoli, Ivan Basso, Maciej Bodnar, Eros Capecchi, Damiano Caruso, Paolo Longo Borghini, Fabio Sabatini, Cristiano Salerno and Sylwester Szmyd

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