Pro cyclist interview: Ivan Basso on joining Tinkoff-Saxo

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Pro cyclist interview: Ivan Basso on signing for Tinkoff-Saxo and joining forces with Alberto Contador

Veteran Italian refuses to look too far ahead as he brings an end to seven-year spell with Cannondale

Despite a squad which already boasts the newly-crowned Vuelta a Espana champion in Alberto Contador and the Tour de France King of the Mountains winner Rafal Majka, Tinkoff-Saxo have been busy in the transfer market.

Ivan Basso, Peter Sagan and brother Juraj, Maciej Bodnar, Robert Kiserlovski and Pavel Brutt will all be joining Tinkoff-Saxo for 2015 as the Russian team looks to build on what has already been a fine season.

Ivan Basso, pictured at the 2014 Giro d’Italia team presentation in Belfast, will bid farewell to Cannondale in the winter as he prepares to sign for Tinkoff-Saxo

For Basso, who will open next week’s Cycle Show at the Birmingham NEC Arena, it will bring to an end a seven-year spell with his current team, Cannondale Pro Cycling, who he joined in 2008 on his return from a two-year suspension for his relationship with Dr Eufemiano Fuentes.

And the 36-year-old Italian, who won the Giro d’Italia in 2010, admits he leaves with only good memories of his time with the team, formerly known as Liquigas before Cannondale took over title sponsorship in 2013.

“The most important part of my career has been with Liquigas and Cannondale,” Basso told RoadCyclingUK. “It has been the same family for seven years.

“For me, I will never forget the chance they gave me and it has gone on to be one of the best periods of my career. It will always stay with me.

I will never forget the chance Liquigas and Cannondale gave me and it has gone on to be one of the best periods of my career

“When you ride seven years for one team, and the career is ten, twelve, fifteen years then it is more than half a career in one team so it’s like a mark in your heart and in your life.

“For me, my old team will always be in my heart and I want to do my best until my final race with them.”

Basso also says the move is no reflection on his relationship with the team, which has seen several big-name riders commit their futures elsewhere as Cannondale prepares to merge with Garmin-Sharp for the 2015 season.

Instead, while he is reluctant to look too far beyond the end of the current campaign, Basso admitted he is relishing the prospect of lining up for such a strong team next year in Tinkoff-Saxo – not as a leader, but as a domestique.

Basso insists he leaves Cannondale with nothing but good memories of his time with the team (Pic: Sirotti)

“I’m happy, of course,” he said. “I am very happy to have this possibility. For me, it’s a new start with a new job – no longer is it a leader role, but that of domestique. I’m excited for this and doing my job in a different way.

“But now is not the time for me to be thinking about this. I think I will start to be excited when I do my first training camp with Tinkoff-Saxo, but for now I have another month with Cannondale.

“Sometimes in your life, you have to take a decision. It is not something bad with Cannondale but instead because after many years at the front it is time to make my decision to move on.

“For many years, Alberto Contador has wanted me to ride with him, while I have been good friends with [Oleg] Tinkov for the several years. It’s nice to get this opportunity.”

For me, joining Tinkoff-Saxo is a new start with a new job. I am very happy to have this possibility

Basso is a rider keen to enjoy the here and now, stopping himself from looking too far ahead but also keen not to get caught up in the past.

Nevertheless, with two Giro d’Italia triumphs on his palmares, having also won the race in 2006, and five Grand Tour podiums in all, the Italian certainly has plenty to look back on when he does choose to retire.

However, having finished 15th overall in this year’s Giro d’Italia, Basso insists he still has plenty to offer.

“My favourite victory could well be the next one,” he said, when asked about his Giro d’Italia triumphs. “You don’t have a victory you don’t like in the past!

Basso is keen to concentrate only on the present, rather than look back on a career which has brought two Giro d’Italia victories (Pic: Sirotti)

“As a rider, you always want to win or do something to stand out. Perhaps my best victory will be my last one in a couple of years. The rider wins not for himself, but for all fans. My job is to do my best. I do not have a favourite victory, I just ride to try to do my best all of the time.”

He added: “Saying that, getting the maglia rosa is the dream. When you are younger and want to ride your bike, you have a dream to get that pink jersey. It is easy to have the best day in your cycling life when you get that jersey.

“When you stop your career it is easier to remember that stuff. At the moment, it is like a train going really fast – you want to look in front of you, not back.”

Getting the maglia rosa is a dream. When you are younger and want to ride your bike, you have a dream to get that pink jersey

Basso will be sharing his tips and advice at a live Q&A hosted on the FSA stand at the Cycle Show on September 25 but was willing to share one secret behind his success in advance.

“There is one secret in my opinion,” he explained. “Do a lot of training on the same mountain until you feel OK. To go fast on the climb, you have to ride the climb many times. That is an easy rule, but it has always proved to be true.”

RoadCyclingUK readers can get discounted entry to the Cycle Show (reduced from £13 in advance or £16 on the door to £11.50) by using the discount code RCUK when booking tickets online. Visit www.cycleshow.co.uk for more information.

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