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2011 Tour de France Preview: Top five riders to watch

The Fab 30

Ivan Basso (Italy) Liquigas-Cannondale

2011 Tirreno-Adriatico, stage 5. Ivan Basso. Photo: Brad Kaminski
Mr. Consistency: Ivan Basso is a safe bet for the podium. But the top of the podium is a long shot. Photo: Brad Kaminski © VeloNews

Why he can win: Basso is a two-time Giro d’Italia winner, so the Italian knows what it takes to win a grand tour. He’s also a fabulous climber, which will be a huge asset in a race with four critical mountaintop finishes. And like Schleck, Basso benefits from the lack of time trials in this year’s race. Can he win the overall? Not likely. Is he the favorite to finish on the Tour podium for the third time in his career? Absolutely.

What could trip him up: Like Schleck, Basso’s time trial skills are limited. He also has a resume blighted by a doping suspension, and some argue that’s why he’s never returned to the form that made him runner-up to Lance Armstrong at the 2005 Tour de France.