As if being on the brink of the biggest win of his career wasn;t enough, Ivan Basso celebrated more
For evidence that the birth of his second child on Friday morning has had a powerful effect on Ivan Basso, one only had to listen to the Italian’s post-race press conference on the Passo di San Pellegrino this evening. After days of refusing to acknowledge – almost ad nauseam – that his victory in the Giro d’Italia is all but secure, Basso finally erred tonight and hinted that he is looking forward to his first major tour victory. But almost instantly he reverted to type: “I don’t want to sound falsely modest…but what happened to me last year [when Basso fell ill on the Stelvio pass – Ed] really marked me. I think that it’s always best to expect the worse that can possibly happen.” Basso had earlier recounted how he had been woken at 6.45 this morning by a text message from his wife pregnant Micaela. “She said that she couldn’t wait until Monday to give birth,” Basso said. “The next message came at 9.10 and said that my son had been born[…] I felt so emotional. When your child is born, the feeling is stronger than for any victory in a bike race.” The newest addition to the Basso family after daughter Domitilla has been given a Spanish name – Santiago. Fittingly, today’s stage winner Juan Manuel Garate pointed to his stomach as he crossed the line on the San Pellegrino in homage to both his own pregnant wife and, Garate said, to Basso’s newborn. While the Giro champion elect seemed to float over the four Dolomite passes on today’s route on a cloud of euphoria, Jan Ullrich ended his Giro adventure at the foot of the San Pelllegrino climb. Ullrich said he had wanted to skip today’s stage entirely but was worried that he might fuel rumours of his links with arrested doctor Eufemiano Fuentes by pulling out. “I had problems with my back a couple of days ago and didn’t want to endanger my preparation for the Tour,” Ullrich explained. “I wanted to quit this morning but didn’t want people to think that I was running away because of the false rumours coming out of Spain.” CSC team boss Bjarne Riis said tonight that he thought Ullrich was “looking pretty good now” as he exited the Giro. Riis had of course been scathing about Ullrich’s form prior to the Giro, calling the German’s form “catastrophic” in April.