Cadel Evans and Ivan Basso are aiming for the win at the Giro. Both are privileged to have the Italian Alberto Sassi as their coach. Sassi, earlier last month was diagnosed to be suffering from brain cancer and predicted one or the other of his “sons” would win.
On the punishing 222 km 15th stage race, Evans and Basso were the toughest athletes on the field fitting each other. The 2006 champion Basso prevailed.
On the much feared Monte Zoncolan climb to the finish, the duo disposed of everyone. It was a 10.1 km climb with an average of 11.9 percent gradient and Basso distanced himself from Evans with 3.7 km to go for the finish. He won by 79 seconds over Evans and rose to third overall behind David Arroyo of Spain.
The 25 year old Tasmanian and former race leader Richie Porte held on for the second place overall at 2:35 finishing 18th about 6 minutes behind Basso. However, Evans leaped from 10th overall and place fifth at 4:43 behind Carlos Sastre clocking 4:21 finish.
It was a perilous final week of the three-week grand tour and Basso, Liquigas team star commented on the Australian BMC team leader, “He’s a great champion, one of the most tenacious riders I know. He’s hard to beat and he’ll be hard to beat till the end.”
Basso won the 2006 race but served a doping ban for two years. He was later allowed to return in 2008 to the peloton races. “The most beautiful since my return…” Basso said, “It’s been a marvelous day for me.”
Basso added, “I know this climb really well, and I knew I had to approach it with a fast, but consistent, rhythm – a bit like in a time trial. But it was a really difficult climb.”
Arroyo who could not sustain the lead on the climb said, “I don’t know about winning the Giro, there were a lot of time losses today.”