July 19, 2004
Basso: If there's one chance, I'll take it
Ivan Basso isn't conceding this year's Tour de France to five-time winner Lance Armstrong.
"I've never been as strong in my life and if there's just one chance of winning I'll take it but I won't attack just to gain 10 or 15 seconds," Basso told reporters at a news conference on Monday.
"I won't attack just to tease Armstrong. If I attack it'll be to try and land the knockout blow, to win the Tour."
Looking at the course profile, it's hard to see Basso riding 1:17 faster than Armstrong over the rest of the race, especially with the Stage 19 time trial being 55 km, much longer than normal. Even if Basso pulls back 4 minutes on stages 16 (the Alpe d'Huez TT) and 17, he would lead Armstrong by about 2:40 going into the ITT on Stage 19, and that doesn't sound like enough to me.
Basso's manager, Bjarne Riis, was the only holdout of 21 sporting directors asked by procycling.com who didn't pick Armstrong to win the 2004 Tour. On the other hand, Riis didn't pick Basso, either, preferring to opt out of the informal survey.
All but 1 director chose Basso 2nd overall, with T-Mobile's Walter Godefroot and others choosing Andreas Klöden 3rd overall.
Four chose Francisco Mancebo to round out the podium, but Vincenzo Santoni of Domina Vacanze echoed how everyone is feeling by making a "sentimental rather than realistic choice" of current yellow jersey Thomas Voeckler to take 3rd. “My heart leans towards Voeckler,” said Santoni.
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