Shorts: Basso, Lance, VDV

Basso checks out Giro climbs in the Dolomites, Lance set for earlier than expected return, Vande Vel

Basso checks out Giro climbs in the Dolomites, Lance set for earlier than expected return, Vande Vel
Ivan Basso spent Tuesday checking out the concluding sections of stage 11 of May's Giro d'Italia, which finishes in the Dolomites at Zoldo Alto. Basso described the stage as "a lot more difficult than a lot of people think. Who knows whether the Giro might be decided there." Accompanied by CSC team boss Bjarne Riis, Basso said that "the difficult climb to the Passo Duran will produce the first splits. The climb to Zoldo Alto features constant changes of gradient." Basso also pointed out that the stage marks change from flatter stages in the first half of the race to a more mountainous second half, and could have a more dramatic effect because of that. The CSC team leader is set to look over the Sestriere stage of the Giro early next week, while a Liquigas-Bianchi reconnaissance team lead by Stefano Garzelli and Dario Cioni is due at Zoldo Alto at the same time. - Lance Armstrong has brought forward his return to racing. His team stated only yesterday that the six-time Tour winner would appear at Paris-Camembert on March 29, but after a few days of good training he is now set to ride Flche Brabanconne in Belgium on Sunday. The delighted Flche organiser, Pascal Demol, who was also able to confirm the presence of world champion Oscar Freire in his event, commented: "The course includes the climbs of the Alsemberg, Bruineput and Lindenberg, and these will allow Armstrong to assess his condition with a view to the Tour of Flanders and, later on, the Tour de France." Discovery Channel team manager Johan Bruyneel explained that "Lance Armstrong feels in form again and wants to race. Flche Brabanonne will give him the chance to perfect his form." - Another American who will be returning to action in the same race is Armstrong's former US Postal team-mate Christian Vande Velde, who will be part of CSC's line-up on Sunday. Vande Velde aggravated a long-standing back problem in his first race for CSC and has since been under the magic hands of team therapist Ole Kaare Foli. "Ole has treated me a couple of times before this, and he was amazing," said Vande Velde. "One of the things Ole told me was to just relax man, chill out. It's getting better, it's a little bit of a muscle imbalance, that's all, but it takes a lot of time to reboot the system." Although Girona resident Vande Velde has missed his 'local' Semana Catalana race, his goal is now to be fit for the Giro. "I know that as long as I'm healthy, I'll be a great asset to the team, but I don't want to go there if I'm not a 100% for Ivan [Basso], cause I know he's going for the win."
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