Tour de France: Ailing Ivan Basso soldiers on toward Paris
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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tour de France: Ailing Ivan Basso soldiers on toward Paris

by Jered Gruber at 4:23 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
Overall hopes vanish in the Pyrenees as Giro winner comes down with bronchitis

Following his tremendous victory at the Giro d'Italia in May, Ivan Basso immediately set his sights on the Tour de France and the seemingly cursed Giro/Tour double. The euphoric days following his Giro win have been replaced, however, with bronchitis and a plummet down the overall standings - almost out of the top 30. On Monday, the Liquigas leader was diagnosed with "acute tracheobronchitis and a low grade fever" according to TuttoBiciWeb.

The two-time Giro winner and two-time Tour de France podium finisher fared reasonably well over the first two weeks, but disaster struck over the weekend when the rider from Varese came down with bronchitis. The ensuing antibiotics further weakened Basso, and the first three days in the Pyrenees have seen the rider plummet from 10th overall after the finish at Ax-3 Domaines, to 14th in Bagneres de Luchon, and finally, after losing almost 35 minutes in today's stage to Pau, the overall hopeful now sits 27th overall.

After finishing in the gruppetto with the likes of Petacchi, McEwen, and Cavendish, Basso looked half a step from the hospital. He commented simply, "I'm very tired and fatigued, it was a really hard day."

"Today, I continued for the honor, even my sports directors proposed for me to leave, but I never like to retire, and I wanted to give everything to cling to staying in this Tour."

Basso's quest to add the Tour de France to his palmares never got off the ground. From the start in Rotterdam, he was never close to the top of the standings. He lingered around the second half of the top ten, but never was there the evidence of the brilliance the Liquigas climber demonstrated throughout May en route to his triumphant second Giro d'Italia victory.

"Unfortunately for me, this year the Grand Boucle was cursed from the start and more difficult than expected, then the last few days [suffering with bronchitis] have made it almost impossible."

Basso has been humbled by the difficulty of the Tour de France so far, but his ride in the autobus was yet another step on the humble ladder.

"Now, I only think about the rest day tomorrow, there I hope to erase this bad day from memory. I'm not used to being in the gruppetto when the players are at the front. I assure you, it is not fun."

Basso expressed hope a few days previously of coming around to do battle in the final days in the mountains, but the nearly debilitating illness has put paid to any hope of a strong ride, for now, the winner atop the Monte Zoncolan in May just wants to get to Paris.

"My goals for the remainder of the race? First, to arrive at the summit of the Tourmalet without this intolerable sickness, and then finish in Paris."


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