Basso to lead Liquigas; Nibali out in the cold
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Monday, November 30, 2009

Basso to lead Liquigas; Nibali out in the cold

by Ben Atkins at 3:25 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 

Blessed as it is with three potential Grand Tour contenders, Liquigas-Doimo has apparently already decided which ones it will be riding for in 2010. According to Italian sports newspaper la Gazzetta dello Sport, the acid green team will be riding for Ivan Basso and Franco Pellizotti at the Giro d’Italia, and Basso alone at the Tour de France. Young riders Vincenzo Nibali and Roman Kreuziger will both have to wait for the Vuelta a España for their own personal ambitions, where they will both share the team leadership.

"I believe that I’ll be racing the Giro and Tour with big ambitions,” said Basso. I’ll start later than usual [on March 22 at the Vuelta a Catalunya] to dedicate myself to the detailed physical preparation that I was not able to this year. So I'm convinced he can reduce the gap even in the time trial, and return to my former level."

This early nomination of team leaders is a change from the usual Liquigas policy of letting the road decide. In 2009, Pellizotti and Basso were second and fourth in the Giro, respectively (pending the disqualification of previous runner-up Danilo Di Luca after he tested positive for the third generation EPO CERA) and at the Tour de France Nibali finished seventh, Kreuziger finished ninth and Pellizotti took the mountains jersey. With such an embarrassment of contenders the team presumably feels that these good results can be turned into wins if the team is organised behind one rider from the start.

Nibali is one rider who is unlikely to be impressed with having to put his Tour de France ambitions to one side for a year, as the 25-year-old Sicilian has expressed a desire to better his seventh place of this year.  The Sicilian would have preferred to make a switch to the British Team Sky in 2010 for a more defined role as leader, but was denied the opportunity by Liquigas management.

"The project that Maximilian Sciandri and the other leaders of the Sky team is very important," explained Nibali to tuttobici.com  The new British team would have guaranteed the rider leadership in key races.

"I've always dreamed of becoming the leader of a team, at least for a series of races, so I asked Liquigas if they would release me a year early. Since my contract with Liquigas ends in December 2010 and has no get out clause, it was not possible to sign an agreement with Sky."

Results in 2010 will also determine the future of the team itself according to Paolo Dal Lago, president of the team’s sponsor Liquigas Sport. "This season will also assess our stay in cycling,” he said. “It is important to win, but also how you win. We feel a responsibility: without the Liquigas team on the Italian cycling landscape would be a lot weaker, we will do everything we can to remain.”

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