Ride Like a Leader: Ivan Basso

Basso leads the mice into the Pain Cave

Everyone knows that things like “tactics” and “thinking” are for the weak. After all, if you’re strong enough, loud enough, and stubborn enough, you should be able to outlast those pesky details like evidence, facts, or people who can ride their bikes faster than you can.

Ivan Basso knows this, and Ivan Basso believes he falls on the “strong enough” side of the fence. Whether he does or not remains to be seen, but three days from Milan, he is still racing – as he has this entire Giro – like the final Maglia Rosa in Milano has his name stitched into the collar.

In a race punctuated by fantastic rides from all the G.C. contenders, Ivan Basso’s Liquigas team stands out as the team who has taken control of each critical stage. I love seeing a rider toe up to the start line and race like its a foregone conclusion that he will wind up with the prize at the end of the three-week long tunnel that is the Giro. His team has been at the front every day, racing like they have the pink tunic on their leader’s back and haven’t bothered with minor details such as trailing in the standings by almost a minute and a half.

While a clever tactician wins my respect; a rider who races from the front wins my heart. It was good enough for Eddy, so its good enough for Ivan. Bravissimo!

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60 Replies to “Ride Like a Leader: Ivan Basso”

  1. …and he looks oh so classy doing it, too. Of course, it seems to me that Liquigas and Basso have been riding a very tactical race. He’ll get a lot of criticism if his swagger doesn’t include the final Maglia Rosa, but I like strong teams and smart riders.

    On that, Rodriguez was asked who the real threats were in the final three stages. His answer: “Hesjedal, Liquigas, and Scarponi.” Don’t know whether that’s a criticism or a high compliment…

  2. Fair commentary but Eddy won stages. Ivan has yet to do so. Will he? We shall see . . .

  3. I’d love to see him trip and rip it up on the Stelvio tomorrow. It has the makings of a quite awesome final ascent!

  4. While a clever tactician wins my respect; a rider who races from the front wins my heart. It was good enough for Eddy, so its good enough for Ivan.

    What the hell are you smoking Frank ? Basso has ridden a completely tactical race – every minute has been tactics.

    Catenaccio they call it in Italian football, and that’s what Basso has been doing. It means nullifying the opponents’ offence – bolting the door.

    Nothing against the guy – very happy for him to win if it works out that way and it is a perfectly respectable way to do it.

    Yes he’s put his team on the line but it’s been to stop his rivals making sudden breakaways and control the speed. That’s hardly riding tete de la course.

  5. @936adl
    I’d love to see Basso take it on tomorrow. The stage has the potential to be truly epic, no-one can afford to sit back and let Hesjedal ride off on his TT with the Maglia Rosa on Sunday so there’s a bunch of people who’ve no option to utterly commit themselves to a do or die ride.

    Strongest team wins – either the one (Liquigas?) that can snap the string with Hesjedal the other end or Garmin by keeping him up there?

  6. Basso is looking great today with 25km to go. He does the sport well with his casual professionalism and cool attitude. I would say that the race is his to win. If it were not for Hesjedal. (I am Canadian after all.)

    I have always loved watching Basso ride, win, and sometimes lose. Thanks Frank, nice little post. We should all ride with that confidence!

  7. @ChrisO

    While a clever tactician wins my respect; a rider who races from the front wins my heart. It was good enough for Eddy, so its good enough for Ivan.

    What the hell are you smoking Frank ? Basso has ridden a completely tactical race – every minute has been tactics.

    Catenaccio they call it in Italian football, and that’s what Basso has been doing. It means nullifying the opponents’ offence – bolting the door.

    Nothing against the guy – very happy for him to win if it works out that way and it is a perfectly respectable way to do it.

    Yes he’s put his team on the line but it’s been to stop his rivals making sudden breakaways and control the speed. That’s hardly riding tete de la course.

    I think bolting the door, is an excellent race long strategy, that leaves a team leader the ability to turn tactics to his own devices.

    On vera.

  8. Basso’s style is unique, not loud as you mention, he doesn’t shoot off his mouth like some Italians, rather is quiet and rather ‘un-Italian’ from that standpoint, but he is of the upmost class.

    Nonetheless, I disagree with the assertion that he has ‘forgone’ and won and its because Liquigas has led out

    I’m not sure any team has flat out dominated, they have all been playing cat and mouse. I will say, Katusha has not done the controlling, and J-rod has just sat on Basso’s wheel, and Ryders, but in so doing, HE…WILL…LOSE the maglia rosa, unless he rides up the Stelvio like a billygoat on cocaine.

    I think Basso has ridden like he has to try to win, no doubt, valiantly, no doubt and the classiest thing was said that he will ride high tempo into the high mtns and see who pops, Kruezinger-missle did and Cunego and others, which is success to an extent, but…and this is a huge BUT, but Ryder did not, and that really is Basso’s main rival now. Its not J-rod. It neutralized some, but not others. Ryder is in control, and Liquigas and all didn’t pop him, but the class comes in the DS saying that Basso was going to ride and not going to cry or relent if he didn’t win after he rode HIS race…that is C-L-A-S-S

    Great Giro, loved ever day of it, especially seeing Cav getting beat by tne young Italian yesterday

    and it will come down to the Stelvio tomorrow, then the TT

  9. Basso knows he doesn’t have the legs to do the “change of tempo” attacks in the mountains, like J-Rod seems to. He has to hope he can just burn Hesjedal and J-Rod off his wheel. So far, no dice. All Hesjedal has to do is stay where he is now until Sunday and the race is pretty much his. Basso and J-Rod need to distance him by a goo way before the TT.

    We shall see …

  10. It blows my mind that a cyclist (or any athlete or person!) can target a 3-week stretch of the year, carve it out, aim at it, get that fucker in his sights and then just BLOW it up. Extremely impressive! Plan, train, ride, focus and then…MAKE IT HAPPEN!

    What concentration, passion & heart. Love it!

  11. And how about the Leaky dudes? OssJawszilla, Peter the Great, Ted King, and Nibali rockin’ it in the Golden State & the rest of ’em ready to pounce on the Giro crown in the MotherLand. Amazing squad.

  12. ChrisO – how about the catenaccio on display last weekend (and for many weeks!) by Chelsea? Not the type of futbol I like to watch, but hey…they’re Champions League champs!

    Despite bolting the door, what a stunning header from DD. That guy is a bull.

  13. @Souleur

    Basso’s style is unique, not loud as you mention, he doesn’t shoot off his mouth like some Italians, rather is quiet and rather ‘un-Italian’ from that standpoint, but he is of the upmost class.

    Nonetheless, I disagree with the assertion that he has ‘forgone’ and won and its because Liquigas has led out

    I’m not sure any team has flat out dominated, they have all been playing cat and mouse. I will say, Katusha has not done the controlling, and J-rod has just sat on Basso’s wheel, and Ryders, but in so doing, HE…WILL…LOSE the maglia rosa, unless he rides up the Stelvio like a billygoat on cocaine.

    I think Basso has ridden like he has to try to win, no doubt, valiantly, no doubt and the classiest thing was said that he will ride high tempo into the high mtns and see who pops, Kruezinger-missle did and Cunego and others, which is success to an extent, but…and this is a huge BUT, but Ryder did not, and that really is Basso’s main rival now. Its not J-rod. It neutralized some, but not others. Ryder is in control, and Liquigas and all didn’t pop him, but the class comes in the DS saying that Basso was going to ride and not going to cry or relent if he didn’t win after he rode HIS race…that is C-L-A-S-S

    Great Giro, loved ever day of it, especially seeing Cav getting beat by tne young Italian yesterday

    and it will come down to the Stelvio tomorrow, then the TT

    I admire Service in Silence. Doing the work and why tell what you are planning to do.

  14. @Cyclops

    Ride like a leader: and get spanked by a Canadian.

    NICE! Man, Ryder is making a Monkey out of me, I am becoming a believer! Fuckin awesome ride today! Wonder how well he’ll recover tomorrow. Just has to hold wheels tomorrow (hell, that’s all he HAD to do today–fuckin ballsy ride today!)

  15. @Buck Rogers

    @Cyclops

    Ride like a leader: and get spanked by a Canadian.

    NICE! Man, Ryder is making a Monkey out of me, I am becoming a believer! Fuckin awesome ride today! Wonder how well he’ll recover tomorrow. Just has to hold wheels tomorrow (hell, that’s all he HAD to do today-fuckin ballsy ride today!)

    Can you hear that sound? Italian hearts breaking….

  16. @Buck Rogers

    @Cyclops

    Ride like a leader: and get spanked by a Canadian.

    NICE! Man, Ryder is making a Monkey out of me, I am becoming a believer! Fuckin awesome ride today! Wonder how well he’ll recover tomorrow. Just has to hold wheels tomorrow (hell, that’s all he HAD to do today-fuckin ballsy ride today!)

    Seriously! What a ride! Gianni probably had an aneurysm. Fuckin’ awesome ride.

    @ChrisO
    I’m saying its more strategic than tactical in the sense that he’s not worried about who has the lead on any given day as that is typically the team that takes the responsibility to control the pace throughout the stage. He’s racing with a strategic goal. Obviously the tactics play out day to day but he’s not worried about those results as much as the end result.

    Your point of setting a high tempo to discourage attacks is true for the finale, but he’s been riding at the front throughout the stage like a race leader would normally do.

    All the other riders – all of them – have at one stage or another indicated they are taking the race day by day. That’s tactical riding. Basso, riding for Milan is strategic.

  17. I’m sorry. I feel like you may not be watching the same Giro that I am. All I have seen is Liquigas peg it for Basso, and then watch him do jack shit with it.

  18. @Session
    My 2 1/2 year old likes to talk about how he is playing “in my own little world” (except that he can’t pronounce the letter “r”). Sometimes it seems like @frank is watching races his own little world — you’ll just have to get used to it.

  19. @Dan_R
    I’m sorry, I can’t hear the Italian hearts, what with the sound of all the Canadian hearts swelling and beating faster every day we get closer to one of our won winning a Grand Tour!

    Go, Ryder, go. Ride like the beast you are and wear pink in Milan.

  20. @Nate

    @Session
    My 2 1/2 year old likes to talk about how he is playing “in my own little world” (except that he can’t pronounce the letter “r”). Sometimes it seems like @frank is watching races his own little world “” you’ll just have to get used to it.

    I’ll overlook your insult and point out that if I saw things the way the rest of the world does, it would be insufferably boring for me. And I don’t mean that as the afront I’m sure that comes across as.

  21. @frank
    Good ‘cuz it wasn’t meant as an insult — more as a suggestion to @Session to find entertainment in your idiosyncratic look at racing, Merckx bless it.

  22. @Pedale.Forchetta
    Everybody in that photo looks the shit! Except Tiralongo. Are those 3/4’s? They’re so baggy they’d fall down if they were warmers. And the sky blue ain’t working for me. Looks like Bob:

  23. Looks to me like he’s riding into Milan as a loser. He should be creaming this lot.

    Great racing, by a second-rate field. I mean, c’mon, Hesjedal (likely) winning a GT?

  24. @nico

    @brett

    Yep Yep, kind of lagging in talent. Contador would have won this race by about 20 minutes.

    Which would have been terribly boring.

  25. @brett

    Looks to me like he’s riding into Milan as a loser. He should be creaming this lot.

    Great racing, by a second-rate field. I mean, c’mon, Hesjedal (likely) winning a GT?

    Absolutely, and the sad thing is that next year he’ll be a favorite and his career will be ruined.

    But this is a great reminder that is isn’t the quality of the field that makes a GT great, its the quality of the racing.

    @nico

    Contador would have won this race by about 20 minutes.

    Exactly, and none of us would tune into tomorrows stage with sweaty palms. I had to get out of bed and hop around a bit this morning to calm myself down.

  26. @sgt

    @Pedale.Forchetta
    Everybody in that photo looks the shit! Except Tiralongo. Are those 3/4″²s? They’re so baggy they’d fall down if they were warmers. And the sky blue ain’t working for me. Looks like Bob:

    A perfectly good expresso, wasted on my screen. You owe me $1.95.

  27. Scarponi really tried to break Ryder at about 3km but to no avail. Basso however did break….

  28. While I have a grab deal of respect for Basso, I really don’t think he can diesel his way up the big one tomorrow, riding guys off his wheel. I hope I’m wrong.
    It’s too bad that Nibbles isn’t here, and has set his sights on the TDF. He could have won this, but there isn’t a chance he’ll be on the top step in Paris.

  29. @scaler911

    While I have a grab deal of respect for Basso, I really don’t think he can diesel his way up the big one tomorrow, riding guys off his wheel. I hope I’m wrong.
    It’s too bad that Nibbles isn’t here, and has set his sights on the TDF. He could have won this, but there isn’t a chance he’ll be on the top step in Paris.

    His only chance now is the Merckxian Hail Mary. But Ryder is the tits for sure. BAD ASS.

  30. @brett, @Oli
    A reading from the book of Merckx from the 1968 Giro:

    Reporter: “Did you have it in mind to go for the win today?”
    Prophet: “Why do you ask me that? Why do you think I’m here? To watch others win?”

    I hope that link is just mind games. If not, how depressing.

  31. @brett

    Pardon me, but what a load. Ryder is a young racer coming in to his own and there’s no reason to think he’s “second rate”. Phinney wins a 10 km time trial and we have to suffer through a week of the American announcers talking about him as though he’s the second coming. Ryder puts in three solid weeks and is poised to win the Giro and he’s second rate? Puleeze.

  32. Interesting today that Basso not only rode like he forgot to mount a big ring on his bike, but Garmin stuck it like the Giro is their to lose now. Beautiful riding by Twistin Banged and Felled, and Ryder did great to bring De Gendt back into range and contain the others.

    Fuckin’ cool race.

    @Cantona
    Amen, brother. I’m loving Tayler as well, but perspective people. He won a prolog and then fell of a bunch.

  33. I know this is late, but I thought it up while on my commute the other day — this post is a case of “premature bike-adulation.”

  34. @Pedale.Forchetta

    Basso deserve some attention or even a ‘premature bike-adulation’. He has never been a super-champ, but during his career he did achieve something.

    Kudos Basso!

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