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Jens Voigt Believes in a Basso Double
 
By Staff
Date: 4/29/2006
Jens Voigt Believes in a Basso Double
 

Voigt Believes Basso Can Double in Giro and Tour
Jens Voigt
 has changed his preparations for the 2006 season. He’s come out of the gates a little slower this season, in part to be ready for the demands of riding in support of Basso in the Giro and Tour.

Count Team CSC’s Jens Voigt as a believer, and he may not be the only one.


Jens Voigt in Maillot Jaune after victory in Stage 9 of  le Tour de France 20005. © Tim de Waele

The German veteran is confident that Ivan Basso can pull off one of the most prestigious accomplishments in cycling: winning the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France in the same season.

“Absolutely,” he said. “I want to ride the Giro to eye-witness the magic double of Ivan.”

The feat was last done by Marco Pantani in 1998 and only the likes of cycling legends Eddy Merckx, Miguel Indurain, Fausto Coppi and Stephen Roche have been able to do the “double.”

Basso shocked the cycling world last winter when he announced he would race both the Giro (May 6-28) and the Tour (July 1-23) this season, somewhat surprising considering the recent retirement of seven-time Tour champion Lance Armstrong.

After finishing second in last year’s Tour, Basso is considered by most as the natural heir to Armstrong’s throne, but the Italian said the tug of home roads made him consider racing to win in both.

“It’s a risk going for two major races in the same season but I really want to try and win both the Giro and the Tour,” Basso said when he announced his decision. “It doesn't mean I will win but it's a risk I'm prepared to take. The Tour de France is the most important race in cycling but I'm Italian and so the Giro is special for me. I couldn't miss it.”


Stage 17 Victory in the Giro 2005 © Tim de Waele

That means Voigt – who is penciled in to race both the Giro and the Tour – has changed his preparation ahead of the 2006 season. He’s come out of the gates a little slower this season, in part to be ready for the demands of riding in support of Basso in both races.

“I’m 34 and I’m almost embarrassed to say that all I’ve raced is the Tour, so I want to widen my horizon a little bit and see how the Giro goes,” Voigt said. “I’ve heard the Giro is not as hard or fast as the Tour. I’m old enough to absorb the workload. It’s not going to kill me.”

Voigt wants to be there to see history.
Team captain Ivan Basso finished second overall, sharing the podium with seven-time champion Lance Armstrong. “I am satisfied with this Tour. I proved I can be strong in both the Giro and the Tour,” said Basso, who finishes on the final podium for the second year in a row. “It’s too bad I had a bad day at Courchevel, but other than that, I felt stronger as this Tour went. I felt I was strongest in the mountains.”

Always a great climber, Basso’s steady progression in time trials helped move him from third overall in 2004 to second this year, and earned him a nod on the podium from the retiring Armstrong as the heir-apparent in next year’s Tour.


Lance talks to Ivan on the 2005 le Tour podium. Photo © Ben Ross

“Ivan, well you are just tough to race against. You're too much of a friend but maybe you’re the future of the race for the years to come,” Armstrong said from the podium. Turning to Basso and third-place Jan Ullrich, Armstrong added: “Ivan, maybe it's your turn next year, or Jan, maybe it will be yours.”

Armstrong came into Sunday’s stage 21 finale—44 kilometers from Corbeil-Essonnes to the Champs-Élysées—a virtual lock for his unprecedented seventh consecutive win. He held a 4:40 lead over Basso and a 6:21 edge over longtime rival Jan Ullrich.

After 3 hours, 40 minutes and 57 seconds of largely ceremonial racing (time was called as the riders entered the Champs-Élysées due to dangerously wet conditions), Alexandre Vinokourov got the stage win but the podium places remained the same.

“We are satisfied with the Tour, every year it’s better,” said Team CSC manager Bjarne Riis. “I wish Armstrong all the best of luck in his life, no doubt about that. We look forward to the future. It’s going to be interesting, we are ready to take over.”

The 92nd Tour de France was a stellar showing for Team CSC, which wound up third in the teams classification behind T-Mobile and Armstrong’s Discovery Channel squad and held the yellow jersey for four of 21 stages.

Here are the Tour highlights of Team CSC:
American David Zabriskie set a Tour speed record in the opening individual time trial with a shocking win averaging nearly 55 kilometers per hour. He grabbed a two-second edge over Armstrong, earned the yellow jersey for the first time in team history and held it for the first three stages.

In the stage 4 team time trial, Team CSC was leading with just over 1 kilometer remaining when Zabriskie crashed and his team soldiered on. Discovery took the lead by scant seconds, and a banged-up Zabriskie dropped out in stage 9.

Stage 9 was the same one Jens Voigt was given free rein to attack, and the big German rode a long break to third place and Team CSC’s fourth yellow of the Tour.

In the second day in the Alps, a sick Voigt missed the time cut in stage 11 and dropped out, but Basso began to assert himself, moving up to fourth overall.


The air and the competition thins as "Ivan the Terrible" leads Jan Ullrich, Lance Armstrong et al on the early slopes of of a mountain stage. © Tim de Waele

In the Pyrenees, Basso moved up to third overall in stage 14, then continued to attack Armstrong in a gritty duel on the Tour’s toughest climbing day, stage 15, to take over second in the GC.

Kurt-Asle Arvesen narrowly missed claiming a second stage win for Team CSC, sprinting with 50 meters to go in stage 17 before being clipped at the line and winding up second.


Ivan on the move in Stage 20  Photo © Ben Ross
Portrait after stage 20 ITT 2005 Ben Ross

In the penultimate stage 20, a 55-kilometer individual time trial, Basso turned in a solid fifth to lock up second overall, and American Bobby Julich was fourth to jump up a notch in the GC (from 18th to 17th).

Seven of Team CSC’s nine riders finished this year’s Tour, with Carlos Sastre of Spain (21st) joining Basso and Julich in the top 30 in the final GC. The other finishers were Denmark’s Nicki Sörensen (71st), Norway’s Arvesen (89th), Australian Luke Roberts (102nd), and Italian Giovanni Lombardi (118th).

Team CSC

Jens Voight isn't alone in his confidence in Ivan Basso and CSC, a quick look through 2005 Tour Jambon Reports of Daily Peloton commentator Locutus will find CSC riders winning a mention in the "Golden Hams" of the day for showing outstanding grit and performance during last years Tour:
Tour de France:
Jambon Report Stage 9
Jens "Manly-Man" Voigt (CSC). He tried to attack yesterday, but it didn't quite work out. Today, the popular German launched off the front in a group of six in pursuit of Rasmussen and Cioni. He drove the chase like a man possessed, and with good reason: 1) Voigt is on friendly terms with Armstrong (remember when Voigt helped Lance's boys chase down Ullrich in the Alps last year?), 2) Voigt knew that Discovery Channel was looking to unload the Yellow Jersey for a day or two, and 3) Voigt knows that Discovery Channel doesn't see him as a long-term GC threat, so they're not inclined to chase him down. Making grimaces that would make a weight lifter proud, Voigt hammered away and shed everyone but his old teammate and friend Moreau. Together they held the peloton at bay, finishing 3' 04" behind Rasmussen but gaining 3' 00" on everybody else. This gave Voigt the second Yellow Jersey of his career, as he now leads Moreau by 1' 50" and Armstrong by 2' 18". It's unlikely that Voigt will be able to hold onto the Yellow Jersey after the climb to Courchevel on Tuesday, but you never know. Whatever happens, Voigt has proven that his brief 2001 stint in the Yellow Jersey was no fluke: he's a quality rider who deserves the honor.

Tour de France: Jambon Report Stage 14
Ivan "Bello" Basso (CSC)
. The classy Italian was back up front battling with Armstrong in the mountains of the Tour again. He came in 3rd on the stage at 58", but he also took time on Rasmussen to close in on that 2nd podium spot. Basso is now 3rd on GC at 2' 46", which puts him 1' 05" behind Rasmussen, and he is fully capable of taking more time than that from Rasmussen in the final time trial. Basso has yet to have a really bad day, which is surprising given that he rode the Giro. Tomorrow will be the big test: if his form holds and he has the legs to stay with the leaders, he'll land on the podium again in Paris. I think the big battle now if for 2nd and 3rd, and I think Basso and Ullrich will take this battle to the final time trial. If either of them has a bad day, Leipheimer and Landis could jump even further up in the GC.

Tour de France: Jambon Report Rest Day 1
Ivan "Bello" Basso (CSC). Where I picked him to finish in my race preview: 7th. Current position: 7th at 3' 44"...
Basso is still the biggest wild card in this race. If he's at his best, he could win the whole thing.
That being said, I think that monster Stage 15 will be his ultimate undoing. He may win a stage in the mountains, and may even climb high on the GC, but I doubt that he'll make it through Stage 15 anywhere close to the leaders. And that's too bad, because as I said before, Basso at his best would be a real challenge to Armstrong and everyone else in the race.

Tour de France: Jambon Report Stage 15
Ivan "Bello" Basso (CSC). I feared that Basso's legs wouldn't be up to this stage because he had ridden the entire Giro. Boy was I wrong. Basso has gotten steadily stronger in this Tour, and today he threw everything he had left at Armstrong. His vicious attack at the bottom of the Pla-d'Adet blew Ullrich off the back for good and put Armstrong under serious pressure.
His subsequent pacemaking and attacks put Armstrong on the rivet. However, they also put Basso on the rivet, and he couldn't drop the big Texan. He ultimately came across the line in 6th on the stage at 5' 04", the same time as Armstrong, but he put 1' 24" into Ullrich and 1' 28" into Rasmussen. This put Basso firmly into 2nd place on GC at 2' 46", and he now looks a lock to finish on the 2nd step of the podium in Paris.

However, Basso's ride has also got people talking about the post-Armstrong era being the Basso era. His biggest rival in next year's Tour is likely to be Ullrich, which would be a classic battle between a superior climber vs. a superior time trialist.

The last time the Tour saw such a battle was 1998, when the Italian climber Pantani was able to tame the young Ullrich. Pantani pulled off the double that year, winning both the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France. Since the ascendancy of Armstrong, such a feat has seemed impossible. With Armstrong retiring, such a feat suddenly seems possible again, and Basso looks more and more like the man most capable of doing it.

Tour de France: Jambon Report Stages 16 and 17
Kurt-Asle Arvesen (CSC).
The "other" Norwegian in the race, Arvesen showed a lot of power and savvy in that break today. Unlike his compatriot Hushovd, Arvesen actually climbed well today, coming over that final climb just behind Savoldelli. With the Italian hampered by a wheel-sucking Hinault, Arvesen was able to bridge up to the leaders. He then jumped off the front in the final 1.5 km in a move that came very close to succeeding. Savoldelli caught him just before the line, but it was still a noble effort for Arvesen on a day that left most men gasping for air.

Tour de France: Jambon Report Stage 1
David "Friskie" Zabriskie (CSC).
He was one of the first riders to go, and yeah, he might have had the benefit of a good wind that the big guns didn't get. But he still absolutely smoked the course, demolishing everybody but the big man himself. He did it in the Giro, and he proved today that it wasn't a fluke. Think about this: Zabriskie has now won a stage in the last three grand tours. He pulled off an amazing solo victory for US Postal in last year's Vuelta, he won the first big Giro time trial this year, and now he's taken the first big time trial and the Yellow Jersey at the Tour de France.

If you weren't paying attention, he also rode very strong in the mountains of this year's Giro in the service of Basso. It's looking like very soon, Zabriskie might be a GC man to be feared as the young rider continues to develop. As it stands, he kicked the greatest cyclists in the world all over the road today. As Zabriskie himself might say, "not bad." With his teammates Jens Voigt and Bobby Julich riding so well today (8th at 1' 04" and 11th at 1' 06" respectively), CSC now holds a slim 4" advantage over Discovery Channel in the team competition, which currently gives them the pole position for the all-important team time trial (or TTT) a few days from now.
 

 
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