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CSC star Ivan Basso seems to have developed into an Italian cannibal. For the third day in a row he won the stage in the Tour of Denmark, which makes him the first rider ever to do so in the history of the race, writes Susanne Horsdal.
This time Basso crossed the finish line solo, and so clear was his lead that it didn't even jeopardise his victory when he raised his hands in jubilation by mistake with one lap still to go of the last three finishing laps in Vejle.
"I had difficulties hearing the radio. All I heard was Bjarne congratulating me and saying that I had done a good job, but hey, it didn't change so much," explained Basso with a smile after he had won by 1-09 from Rory Sutherland (Rabobank) and Moises Aldalpe (Panaria).
Contrary to the two first stages that he's won, the third was tailor-made for the Italian, with three finishing laps that included a short but tough climb with a gradient of 21 per cent, and Basso quickly took charge once the peloton reached this phase of the race.
"I had researched it on Monday, and it wasn't so flat today, so with the bad weather it was a hard day. I've had more rain here in three days than I have had in the rest of my career," said Basso after a stage that tortured the riders with torrential rain.
To compensate for that, Basso has been cheered on like a king by the Danish spectators who has taken him in as if he was one of their countrymen. Indeed, the Italian's popularity almost surpasses that of Bjarne Riis after he had after won the Tour de France in 1996.
"That, I can live with," commented Basso's team manager Riis with a smile, before once again praising his protg. "It only confirms that Ivan is the strongest here, but this win is in my opinion not the biggest. This I was expecting. The first two have impressed me more," said Riis.
Following this clear victory, Basso now holds a 1-45 lead over T-Mobile's Daniele Nardello, and basically has to 'do a Michael Rasmussen' in Saturday's time trial to let the overall victory slip away.
- Team CSC have prolonged Danish champion Lars Bak's contract by two years. "Apart from being a good athlete he's also a super guy who's always in a good mood," says press manager Brian Nygaard.
Stage 3, Aarhus-Vejle
1 Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC 187km in 4.44.15
2 Rory Sutherland (Aus) Rabobank 1.09
3 Moises Aldape (Mex) Panaria
4 Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor) CSC 1.10
5 Daniele Nardello (Ita) T-Mobile
6 Jens Voigt (Ger) CSC 1.23
7 Jacob Fuglsang (Den) Denmark 1.29
8 Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus) Rabobank
9 Roy Sentjiens (Hol) Rabobank 1.34
10 Iljo Keisse (Bel) Chocolade Jacques 1.36
30 Steve Cummings (GB) Landbouwkrediet 2.34
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