Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale) opened his account early this season with a rare, one-day race victory in Sunday’s GP di Lugano.
Basso usually earns his wins in grand tours and on mountaintops, but the 2010 Giro d’Italia champion attacked late in the race to drop everyone except Colombian rising star Fabio Duarte (Geox-TMC). The pair crossed the line one-two, with Giovanni Visconti (Farnese) rounding out the podium with third at 14 seconds back.
“The team was determined to win the race,” Basso said in a team report. “We set a high pace to make the first selection. First we tried with Caruso, and I felt like I had good legs, so I tried on the final climb. Duarte followed me and we opened up a good gap on the group.”
Basso dedicated the victory to Aldo Sassi, the Italian trainer who recently died of a brain tumor. Sassi helped coach Basso back to the top following his controversial ban in the Operación Puerto blood doping ring in 2006.
Though Basso is typically a stage-racer, he’s won the occasional one-day race, including the 2004 Giro dell’Emilia, the GP Industria e Commercio last year and the U-23 world title back in 1998.
Basso’s success brings Liquigas-Cannondale’s victory haul to seven on the 2011 season. Peter Sagan has won four races, with three stage wins and the overall at the Giro di Sardegna, while up-and-coming sprinter Elia Viviani won GP Costa degli Etruschi and the Nashik race in India.
The victory will bolster Basso’s confidence going into his first major goal of the 2011 season at Tirreno-Adriatico next month.