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Ivan Basso will leave the Tour de France to undergo surgery for testicular cancer, discovered on the rest day in Pau, the rider revealed.
At Tinkoff-Saxo's press conference in the southern French city the two-time Giro d'Italia winner said that scans showed the presence of tumour cells in his left testicle, having felt discomfort after a crash on stage five.
“We realised after my fall on the fifth stage," he said. "That day I fell and I hit my testicle on the saddle, like so many times before.
“But it started to bother me, and then this morning we went for a visit to a famous urologist here to Pau.
“The scan showed the presence of tumour cells in the left testicle. Now I have to go straight home to have surgery”
Basso, 37, joined Tinkoff-Saxo at the start of the 2015 season and helped Alberto Contador to Giro victory in May. The Spaniard, who is sharing a room with the Italian at the Tour, reportedly sat alongside Basso in Monday's press conference in tears.
“It’s a very tough blow to the whole team, we never imagined a day like this,” Contador said. “Ivan and I have spent 120 of the past 180 days together. I’m sure we’ll be together to celebrate in Paris.”
An accomplished Grand Tour rider in his own right, Basso won the Giro d'Italia in 2006 and 2010, taking six stages in his home race in nine attempts.
He has also achieved two Tour de France podium places, finishing third and second in 2004 and 2005 respectively. This year he has been a key domestique in Contador's aim to win both the Giro and Tour.
Steven de Jongh, sports director of Tinkoff-Saxo commented: "As everybody understands, today is not a day to speak about the Tour de France, the days ahead or Alberto's main rivals on the mount stages.
"All that is irrelevant and we are all here solely to support Ivan. The entire team hopes to meet him again in Paris and hand him the yellow jersey."
Journalist Daniel Friebe reports that he's spoken to the Tinkoff-Saxo doctor, Piet de Moor, who says Basso has a 98 to 99 per cent chance of a full recovery.
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