July 12, 2004
Basso: Tour win perfect Pantani tribute
CSC's Ivan Basso thinks he can be the first Italian Tour winner since Marco Pantani in 1998.
Basso was 7th riding for Fassa Bortolo last year, and has worked to improve his time trialing. He participated in the tributes to Pantani on his death in February from cocaine poisoning.
"What happened was a massive loss to cycling," Basso told BBC Sport, "and the peloton will miss him this year.
"I believe I am good enough to win the Tour de France and what a perfect way to remember him."
Basso's director, Bjarne Riis (himself a Tour winner) says Basso could make the podium:
"We'd be hoping for at least a place in the top five this year, maybe more.
"As for winning it, it may not happen this year but I definitely think he will win within two, maybe three years."
For his part, Basso likes his chances, riding for the world's and the Tour's top-ranked team:
"I feel better prepared than ever before and have an even better team behind me.
"My initial aim this year is to go foor the top five. After that who knows. Winning it this year is not impossible. It's a very open race."
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