Basso wins Tour's acceptance, podium spot next goal

Ivan Basso and Lance Armstrong, Tour de France 2010 stage 2

Italian Ivan Basso will battle for the Tour de France's podium over the next four days in the Pyrenees. The battle is an easy one, considering the one he has already won: acceptance from his colleagues and the race's organisers.

Basso left out of the backdoor of his team's hotel on the eve of the Tour de France four years ago in Strasbourg. The Operación Puerto investigation in Spain finally caught up with him and linked him to blood doping doctor, Eufemiano Fuentes.

"I am happy with the acceptance of the organisers, Christian Prudhomme and Jean-François Pescheux," Basso told Cycling Weekly. "I am in love with this race, it gave me a lot and they were good to me since day one this year in Rotterdam."

Since leaving his hotel in Strasbourg, Basso received a two-year ban for the bags of blood he had stored in Fuentes' offices. After first denying, he served out his suspension and then came back a changed man with team Liquigas. Now, he works with respected cycling trainer Aldo Sassi and the two post his blood values online for transparency purposes.

Basso finished in the top five of the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España last year, and now, after winning this year's Giro d'Italia, has returned to the Tour de France.

The Tour de France did give him a lot: the white jersey of best young rider in 2002, a stage win in 2004 and twice on the podium behind Lance Armstrong (third in 2004 and second 2005).

"Ivan paid his price and he also paid for the other riders. He's returned as an open book," said Liquigas sports director, Stefano Zanini. "We have found support from both the fans and organisers."

Zanini revealed that Basso was stressed in the first days of the Tour de France. He said it was the same as win Basso made his return to the Giro d'Italia last year.

"Everyday there it was an exam, how would he do on the first day, the first mountain stage, the first time trial... It is like that at the Tour too; he just didn't know how the people would accept him."

Basso's battle is no longer for acceptance, though. He wants to place on the podium in one week's time in Paris.

"The battle for this Tour is between two riders: Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck," continued Basso. "I am not sure about [finishing on] the podium, but I have to continue to believe it is all possible. There still four difficult stages to come, where anything can happen."

Ahead of the four stages in the Pyrenees, Basso sits 11th overall, 5'30" behind current leader Schleck.

Tour de France 2010: Latest news

Contador versus Schleck: A game of seconds

Can Cav win without Renshaw?

Hesjedal pushing his way to the Tour's top

Renshaw disqualification overshadows Cavendish's win

Charly Wegelius pulls out of Tour

Did Armstrong own a stake in Tailwind Sports, or not?

Cavendish in a 'must win' situation for Tour's green jersey

Millar rides through pain barrier to make time cut

Roche alongside Tour's top men ahead of Pyrenees

Wiggins to aim for Tour de France stage win?

Dan Lloyd battles on in Tour despite groin strain

Tour de France 2010: Stage reports

Stage 13: Vino returns to top of Tour after doping ban

Stage 12: Rodriguez wins as Contador attacks

Stage 11: Cavendish bags third stage win but lead out man kicked out of Tour

Stage 10: Cavendish bags third stage win but his lead-out man is kicked out of race

Stage 10: Paulinho claims narrow stage victory on Bastille day

Stage nine: Casar wins stage as Schleck and Contador go head-to-head

Stage seven: Chavanel wins stage and takes overall as Thomas drops out of Tour's white

Stage six: Cavendish makes it two as Tour hots up

Stage five: Cavendish wins his first stage of Tour

Stage four: Petacchi wins into Reims

Stage three: Hushovd takes dramatic win; Thomas second on stage and GC

Stage three live coverage: As it happened

Stage two: Comeback man Chavanel takes victory in Spa

Stage one: Petacchi wins in Brussels as bunch left in tatters

Prologue: Cancellara pips Martin to win

Tour de France 2010: Photos

Stage 13 photo gallery

Stage 12 photo gallery

Stage 11 photo gallery

Stage 10 photo gallery

Stage nine photo gallery

Stage eight photo gallery

Tour 2010 wallpaper

Stage seven photo gallery

Stage six photo gallery

Stage five photo gallery

Stage four photo gallery

Stage three photo gallery

Stage two photo gallery

Stage one gallery

Prologue photo gallery

Tour de France 2010: Videos

Stage 13 video highlights

Stage 12 video highlights

Stage 11 video highlights

Stage 10 video highlights

Stage nine video highlights

Stage eight video highlights

Stage seven video highlights

Stage six video highlights

Stage five video highlights

Stage four video highlights

Stage three video highlights

Stage two video highlights

Stage one video highlights

Prologue video highlights

Tour de France 2010: Race guide

Tour de France 2010: Cycling Weekly's coverage index

Official start list, with race numbers

Brits at the Tour 2010

Tout team guide

Tour jerseys: What they are and what they mean

Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Wiggins

Tour de France 2010: Pictures

Tour team presentation, Rotterdam

Tour teams take to the cobbles: Photo special


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