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Just how close were Team CSC and Ivan Basso to US Postal and Lance Armstrong during last year's Tour de France? Both during and after the race, speculation was plentiful about cooperation between the two teams, and a new film about the Danish team lifts the lid on this issue, writes Susanne Horsdal.
Called Overcoming, the film opens in Danish cinemas on June 10 and closely follows CSC's on-the-road action and the behind-the-scenes activity within the team. Among the most interesting aspects of the latter are sections documenting how CSC team leader Basso promises to help Armstrong if he needs it, and how Armstrong apparently lets Basso in on his plans to secure his sixth Tour de France victory.
In one of the film's most significant scenes, which sheds light on the closeness of the relationship between Basso and Armstrong, parts of a telephone conversation can be heard between the American and the Italian, who has shortly before learned about the seriousness of his mother's cancer. Only Basso's responses are heard, but at the end Basso tells Armstrong: "In this Tour - if you need something you just ask for it."
Later we see Basso talking to manager Bjarne Riis about a conversation he's had with Armstrong, in which Armstrong has told Basso to if he stays close to him on Friday he'll end far up on Saturday. "He wants to decide the Tour on the weekend," Basso tells Riis. The film doesn't reveal when exactly that conversation took place, but it's clear that it happens before the Pyrenean stages to La Mongie and Plateau de Beille, the first of which Basso won ahead of Armstrong, while their positions were reversed the next day.
Armstrong has never made a secret of him "giving" the stage victory to Basso on La Mongie - partly to pay respect to the Italian's ailing mother - but this does give an indication of why Basso and CSC never seriously tried to attack the American throughout the race.
Earlier in the film, US Postal team manager Johan Bruyneel is heard calling Riis during a stage to establish the need for co-operation in the possible sidewinds affecting the race on stage seven to Saint Brieuc. In this case, their plan doesn't work out, but it only goes to show that in cycling deals are an integrated part of the show - and this time it's been documented.
Overcoming is a 100-minute film by director Tomas Gislason, who is also a film editor and worked as co-scriptwriter on Lars von Trier's Europa and The Kingdom. Overcoming was shot over more than six months, but the large part of it focuses on the Tour de France and especially Riis, Basso and Carlos Sastre. The film is expected to be out on DVD and on international distribution in the autumn.
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