Riis: 'Basso would have won'

Thursday, May 26, 2005 11.00pm
CSC team manager Bjarne Riis has no doubts that his team leader Ivan Basso would have won the Giro i

PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM

Ivan Basso's demonstration in Thursday's stage will make it even tougher for Team CSC boss Bjarne Riis to sleep at night. With his protg back at his best after suffering with a crook stomach, Riis will remember this Giro d'Italia with bittersweet memories for what should have been.

"Ivan would have won hadn't he become sick," Riis insisted. "It was obvious he was the strongest. He was stronger than the Tour last year. If it had happened during some of the easier stages, he could have overcome it during the race. But with the pressure of the Stelvio, it became too much."

Basso had promised to race the Giro's final weekend as if "I had the maglia rosa on my back." Riis said that reflects Basso's growing self-confidence and suggested the difficulties in the Dolomites will make him even stronger in the future.

"Basso didn't want to accept the situation as the way it was, especially after all the work that went into it. It's not easy to accept that he quits," Riis continued. "It was hard for everyone and especially Ivan, but I think he needed that for the future. It will make him harder and tougher. It can be kind of a breakthrough for him. Everything in life isn't that easy. I think he can be stronger in the future because of it."

The Great Dane had a front-row seat to Basso's suffering up the Stelvio from the Team CSC car and said it wasn't easy to watch.

"I said to him, 'I don't want to see you suffer like this. If it's too much, then you stop.' He told me he didn't want to stop," Riis said. "He said he wanted to continue, I said, 'OK, if you suffer like this tomorrow, you stop.' But he wanted to continue really badly, fair enough."

It seems like Riis is rubbing off on Basso in more ways than one. Now they're both stubborn.

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