Ivan Basso says that the "best active Grand Tour rider" Alberto Contador can beat Chris Froome in the July's Tour de France
That is the view of his former teammate and close friend Ivan Basso, who has backed El Pistolero to win his eighth Grand Tour in July and go level with favourite Chris Froome as a three-time winner of La Grand Boucle.
Contador has been earmarked as one of the favourites for the Tour in each of the last five editions he has ridden, but crashed out in 2014 and 2016.
He last claimed the yellow jersey in Paris in 2010, but it was subsequently revoked for testing positive for clenbuterol. Andy Schleck was replaced as the winner.
Basso believes that if Contador goes into the race in the same condition as Froome and Nairo Quintana, and is unhampered by injury or misfortune, he is well-placed to win the Tour again.
“Of course Contador can win the Tour,” Basso, who retired at the end of the 2015 season, said.
“With Alberto I’ve never been disappointed. He’s one of a kind who fights for himself, for his objectives.
“He conducts himself like Usain Bolt when he goes to a World Championships or Olympic Games.
“We’re talking about the best active Grand Tour rider. His titles at the Tour, Vuelta and Giro are plain to see.”
Basso was technical coordinator at Tinkoff last year, when Contador abandoned the Tour after the ninth stage. He claimed then that the Spaniard could have challenged eventual winner Froome had it not been for a series of crashes.
This year, Froome is the undoubted favourite, especially with Quintana attempting to become the first rider since 1998 to win the Giro-Tour double.
But Basso believes that Contador can not only rival Froome et al. but beat them. “The main rivals are Froome and Quintana, but Contador’s fight is with himself – the fight over his own legend.
“Last year he was in form but luck wasn’t with him. If he goes up against those guys in equal conditions, then it’s clear he can win the Tour. I hope he doesn’t have bad luck. He’s 34, but he’s still a unique rider.”