The Tinkoff-Saxo team had things other than bike racing on its mind since yesterday morning; concern for the well-being of Ivan Basso was the prevalent theme of the first rest day of the 2015 Tour de France. While the 10th stage of the race was being contested, the team issued a statement about the Italian’s consultation in relation to his diagnosis of testicular cancer.
“Basso will undergo surgery in order to clarify the nature of the problem and reach its resolution,” read the press release. “The intervention will be performed by Professor Francesco Montorsi, Director of the Urology Surgery Unit at San Raffaele Hospital in Milan, and his team.”
We wait to find out how Basso manages the operation tomorrow, in the meantime, his team-mates remain focussed on the challenge of racing – with one less rider – the Paris and trying to win the title of the 102nd Tour.
RIDE spoke with Michael Rogers before the start of the 10th stage, the first without Ivan Basso in 2015. Here is a transcript of the interview…
RIDE: It was an interesting rest day. I know you’re not too keen to talk too much about Ivan but there seems like there’s a little bit of positive news from overnight after the consultation with the doctors.
Michael Rogers: “Yeah, well it certainly looks like he’s very lucky that, from what I understand, they caught it at an early stage and though I don’t know the full details. I don’t feel it’s appropriate that I delve into the details. When the time is right I’m sure Ivan will make a decision with his family and he’ll speak about it in due time.”
You’ve known him a long time, haven’t you? You’re both veterans of the peloton. He handled himself with an enormous amount of grace yesterday…
“Yeah, he did. He was transparent and told as much as he knew, from what I understand. He held his head very high.
“He’s been through some tough moments and I’m sure that he’s got the strength to fight forward and hopefully be back soon.”
On last year’s first rest day there was a team meeting because you lost a leader the day before [when Alberto Contador crashed out]. How did you approach yesterday?
“I’m starting not to like the first rest day of the Tour de France.
“It’s a rest day and we normally do have a lot to do. We certainly felt agitated yesterday from the news of Ivan but physically we rested.”
Let’s talk about the race. You’ve got Contador in a good position. He seems strong and the team is flying. How do you imagine today [stage 10] playing out? Is it going to be a break or are the GC guys going to be still chasing time bonuses?
“I think we’ll see quite a few movements between the big guys; it’s the first real showdown, isn’t it?
“I’m not really into guessing or predicting and it’s hard to tell because the climbs we’ve done up until now have been short and very explosive, whereas today will be a climb of what could be up to an hour, so you could start to see some of the guys who are a couple of minutes off [the lead] of GC make a move but it’s all to be seen in the final.”
In the team meeting this morning, was it basically about how Albert is going to manage it – or what you guys have got to do?
“Of course, certainly [it was about Alberto]. He’s the leader here and we’ll do everything for him – to put him into the correct position. And once the big guys move it’s over to him.”
He races with a great deal of emotion. Can you confirm: does he race with a power meter? (It has been suggested that he has the SRM unit on his bike but that it’s not actually activated during racing.)
“Yeah, yeah – I think so, yeah.”
And when it comes time to attack, do you think it’s because of the numbers in front of him or the circumstance of the race?
“No, no, no… we’ve been watching Alberto for the last eight or nine years and you can see when he feels good, he attacks – no matter what the circumstances are.”
– Interview by Rob Arnold