Italian Ivan Basso came away from the Tour de Romandie time trial on Friday demoralised, and it leaves only seven days until he begins his quest to win the Giro d'Italia.
"Even if I didn't win the Giro del Trentino, I feel better than this point last year," Basso told Cycling Weekly last week after he finished fifth behind Alexander Vinokourov.
Yesterday, after 32 minutes and 44 seconds, his attitude changed. Basso lost 1'30" to the favourites in a 23.4-kilometre time trial around Moudon, Switzerland.
"There is not time to change anything," he told Italian paper La Gazzetta dello Sport, looking ahead to the start of the Giro d'Italia Saturday in Amsterdam.
"This test worries me a lot. But I cannot train anymore than what I already do. I cannot put my finger on it. I am not calm, but, certainly, I have to be on target.
"Anyway, I know that I have trained well, anything more is not possible. Calm and committed, and with a perfect programme. I am sure that the work I've done will pay off. It has to."
Basso will lead team Liquigas-Doimo at the Giro d'Italia alongside Franco Pellizotti. Last year, the he finished fourth overall after coming back from a two-year suspension for his ties to Operación Puerto. Pellizotti finished third behind winner Denis Menchov.
The Giro d'Italia has four key time trials: an 8.4-kilometre time trial in Amsterdam on day one, a team time trial on the first day in Italy (stage four), a 12.9-kilometre mountain time trial to Plan de Corones (stage 16) and the final day's 15.3-kilometre time trial in Verona.
Judging by yesterday's time trial, Basso is a long way off from repeating his 2006 Giro d'Italia win. In the first seven kilometres, uphill, he lost one minute to the favourites - Vladimir Karpets and Alejandro Valverde - and in the next 16 kilometres (10km false flat, 6km descent) he lost around 20 seconds.
"This data, if it is truly correct, is incredible. I lost on my terrain. I would not lose one minute on Karpets even with a fever. My team-mate [Sylvester] Szmyd, who went easy, had my same time at the top of the climb."
Australian Richie Porte (Saxo Bank) won the time trial with a time of 30'54". To be fair, Karpets and Valverde will not race the Giro d'Italia. USA's Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Transitions) was the top Giro d'Italia favourite yesterday, riding 36 seconds faster than Basso.
Tour de Romandie: Rogers takes over lead after time trial
Giro d'Italia 2010: Cycling Weekly's coverage index
2010 Giro d'Italia coverage in association with Zipvit
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Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.
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