Remember back in 2004 and 2005 when Ivan Basso was the only rider in the Tour de France to come close to challenging Lance Armstrong? Remember back in 2006 when Ivan Basso won his first Giro by something drug crazy like nine minutes?
Those glory days and suspect exploits seem like a long time ago after watching the 2012 Giro where Basso did a slow, inexorable fade to 5th place. As Daniel Benson writes in his post-Giro conclusions, it’s difficult to imagine that at age 34 Basso, can “bounce back.”
Are we done with the classy champion from Varese — is it time for Basso to spend time with his three kids and enjoy La Dolce Vita? Twisted Spoke wonders if this might be the last time we see Basso anywhere near a big podium.
Basso had his post-Puerto renaissance under the guidance of anti-doping evangelist and coach, the now departed Aldo Sassi. Through pure hard work and extreme sacrifice, Basso slowly returned to the top end of the sport and his reward was winning the 2010 Giro d’Italia. He could justifiably say that he won at least one grand tour “clean.”
Since that triumph it’s been a tough go for Basso. He tried to target the 2011 Tour de France but finished almost 7:30 behind winner Cadel Evans. He worked his trademark grimace all around France and while he was often seen near the front, he was never a force.
His best hope for the 2012 Giro was to slowly grind down the opposition with a strong Liquigas-Cannondale squad and his big diesel engine. That plan looked fairly operational until the third week and the final two days in the Dolomites.
Basso finished the stage to Cortina d’Ampezzo with a surprising kick, coming in second to Rodriguez. However the killer climb up the Alpe di Pampeago and the following day on the brutal Stelvio destroyed his hopes. He spent most of his time off the back of the lead group with Rigoberto Uran (Sky) trying to close gaps.
It’s a major transition year for Liquigas-Cannondale. Rumors persist that star Vincenzo Nibali will trade his Italian team for Astana and bank vaults of Kazak cash. We don’t think that’s going to happen but Liquigas will have to sweeten their offer, no matter what Nibali does in the Tour de France. He is the immediate stage race future and Basso has his best days behind him.
What would be interesting would be to see what Basso could do for his final act at a team like Garmin-Barracuda or Sky. Getting out of Italy and riding for teams that are on the cutting edge of training and technology might give him a little boost. Maybe enough for one more year in contention for the big stages races.
Still, while we hate to write the words, this feels like finite for Basso.