Tour Guide Flashback – Liquigas Pages (2011)
RIDE Media has produced the official Tour de France Guide (Australian edition) since 2003. The 2012 edition will be on sale mid-June. As part of the team pages we are also offering ‘Flashbacks’ to the 2011 Guide to help provide a look at the progress/changes to the teams between the 98th and 99th Tours de France.
In this flashback we look at the commentary on the Liquigas team from the 2011 Tour preview.
Flashback: 2011 – Liquigas Team Pages
Basso’s Giro title defence sacrificed in favour of Tour
To appreciate the ability of Ivan Basso it’s worth considering the tactics he was able to employ at the Giro d’Italia in 2006. Sure, he might have been able to do what he did five years ago thanks to added enhancement but for the sake of observing his style of riding, let’s remind ourselves of his antics back then. On the climbs he has such acceleration that he could toy with his rivals. He’d speed ahead, gain enough of an advantage that they were forced to chase. Then he’d ease off the pace until others were lulled into believing there was a reprieve from the incessant attacks. As they were catching their breath, off Basso would go again. Surge after surge, until they could respond no more. It was a cruel high-cadence routine.
He won the Giro that year with CSC. A lot has happened since then, much of it explored in our profile on him (p.65) but what’s worth remembering is that Basso is no ordinary rider. He’s been embroiled in controversy but presents in such a way that one can’t help but like him. And upon his return – with the assistance of Aldo Sassi, in 2010 – he was still most impressive.
Few can climb like Basso. There are engines in the peloton that are able to match his time going up mountains but it’s the accelerations that can do the damage. Alberto Contador is the only one from this generation who can consistently respond to such taunting. Cadel Evans comes close and he’s been working on being able to be more explosive… but the Liquigas leader realises it’s part of a winning repertoire.
The time trial was once a weakness but Basso has improved his position and he’s going to be one of a handful who – if he makes it to Grenoble on the penultimate day – will be giving it his all in the difficult 41km TT in the Alps. Before then, we can expect to see a lot of the green team.
Vincenzo Nibali was excellent in the Giro this May. He was one of a few daring enough to try and challenge Contador for the pink jersey but there was a significant contrast to that race in 2010 when Basso was present. Liquigas riders seemed to be in unlimited supply. There was a cast of stars who set the pace for the rider who ultimately won the title a year ago. They were there for Nibali too – just not quite to the same extent.
Italians always want to excel in the Giro but they know that the Tour is the biggest prize in cycling. Last year the Italian race was a stepping stone for Basso: it allowed him to realise that he could indeed win a three-week race again. Been there, done that… time to move on. And so it’s a committed effort all based on being in his best possible form for July. Exactly who the other eight from Liquigas will be remains to be seen but the plan is for Cameron Wurf to be one of the domestiques for a rider who is justifiably one of the true favourites for the title.
We’re yet to see if he can dance like he did five years ago or even who he has to take on but Basso believes he’s ready for a yellow jersey. If he can win it, this should be the year.
By Rob Arnold