Basso ready for final push

Giro leader Ivan Basso says he's ready for the attacks that are bound to come his way in the Dolomit

Giro leader Ivan Basso says he's ready for the attacks that are bound to come his way in the Dolomit

PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM

Ivan Basso says he is ready for whatever the mountainous last few days of the Giro d'Italia throws at him, and that he's optimistic that he will win his first major stage race in Milan on Sunday as long as fortune stays on his side.

"Winning the Giro is my target and with a bit of luck, which I have lacked in previous editions, I think I will achieve it," he told the press on Monday. "In the two mountain stages so far I've clearly shown I'm in form, and the differences in the GC underline that."

With many of his expected rivals dropping away, Basso now sees surprise second-placed rider Jos Enrique Gutierrez as his main rival. The Spaniard is known as 'El Bufalo', and has shown that kind of strength during the opening two weeks of the race.

"He's really surprised me," Basso said of Gutierrez, who he leads by 3-27, with defending champion Paolo Savoldelli more than five minutes back in third. "Strangely, on the two mountain stages so far he's one of the few riders who has been able to follow me. He's been the revelation of the race, and if he can keep that form going he's going to be difficult to shift from the podium places."

As for his own prospects, Basso said he is "mentally prepared to deal with the numerous attacks that are going to be made, but I'm going to respond to them - the best form of defence is attack. Also, I've got strong support, especially from the Spaniards Sastre and Cuesta. I admit I'm confident about my chances in spite of the most difficult days to come."

Gilberto Simoni, one of those rivals who have failed to threaten Basso as expected, has said that much can still happen in the closing days and that he won't be throwing in the towel. "The gaps are big, but there are passes where you can lose up to four minutes in a kilometre," said the Italian, who is more than eight minutes down.

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