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Unlike Jan Ullrich, CSC team leader slipped away from Strasbourg without making any immediate comment to the press after being asked to stand down from the Tour de France by his team having been implicated in the Operacion Puerto blood doping investigation. While CSC team boss Bjarne Riis confronted the massed ranks who had descended on the Holiday Inn just 200 yards from the Tour's media centre, Basso took another exit out of the hotel into a car waiting to drive him back to his Italian home in Varese.
Leading Italian sports paper La Gazzetta dello Sport did manage to get hold of Basso on his way back to Italy, describing him as being angry but surprisingly calm despite the turmoil he had found himself in. I've done nothing but I'm leaving like a thief," said Basso when asked to reveal his feelings on being forced out of the Tour.
Basso described the process leading to his exclusion from the Tour as "abnormal". He said his next step would be to obtain a copy of the Operacion Puerto summary document in which he was named so that his lawyer could assess how the the CSC rider should proceed. "I've been made the centre of attention for something that I've got nothing to do with," affirmed Basso.
The Italian added that CSC team boss Bjarne Riis had said he "has complete faith in me and will be waiting for me with open arms". Riis had told the Italian that he was forced to exclude him from racing because the team had signed the ProTour's ethical code, which prevents riders under investigation in doping-related cases from competing.
"Now I'm only interested in getting back home to my wife Micaela and my two kids, and relaxing a bit. I will keep going out on the bike because that is my job, even though I can't ride the Tour," Basso explained, adding that this was not the worst moment of his career. "Two years ago I rode the Tour knowing that my mother was dying of cancer. This is nothing compared to that. I am certain that I will come out of this with my head held high. Soon I will be back racing and winning again, I can assure you of that."
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