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by Shane Stokes
October 28, 2015
Photography by Cor Vos
Earlier this month he announced that he would retire as a professional rider, deciding not to race again after being forced to withdraw from the Tour de France with testicular cancer. Despite being fully recovered, the Italian said that he would instead switch to a new role with his Tinkoff-Saxo team.
On Tuesday the nature of that role was made clear, with Basso moving into the new slot of technical coordinator.
The 37 year old’s position is one that has been described by the team as one of ‘overseeing, developing and optimizing the collaboration between the athletes and technical functions.’
“I’m extremely happy and I thank the team owner Oleg Tinkov, the management of the team and the sports directors for their warm welcome in relations to this new role I will have within the team,” he said, speaking from the team get-together in Porec, Croatia.
“It’s a very important opportunity for me to start a new path in my career. I will be the link and coordinator between the riders and the group of sports directors. I will ride with them, I will test the new material, the race courses and I will do whatever is necessary to help the team.
“A happy rider is a fast rider.”
The squad will be known next year as Tinkoff Team, with Saxo Bank ending its long association at the end of the current year.
Current Head Sports Director Steven de Jongh said Basso is dealing well with the change.
“He is an integrated part of the squad and a great teammate and friend, so the transition has been very smooth during the last months,” he stated. “Ivan has just ended a long and notable career, so he’s obviously very well connected to the life as a pro cyclists and what it takes to perform.”
Basso has already spent time with de Jongh at some races in the latter part of the season. De Jongh said that he will continue to follow him in the early part of next year, increasing his learning.
“|Surely, you need a lot of passion to do this job and Ivan has that so I’m very confident ahead of the next season. Without a doubt, a team like us can benefit from Ivan’s experience, when it comes to physiological, mental and technical aspects. He will take on a newly formed position on the team and I honestly can’t think of anybody else who is more suited to take care of these responsibilities than Ivan.”
When he announced his retirement this month, Basso explained that he didn’t see any value in remaining a professional rider if he could not perform at a decent level.
“Every athlete knows that his light will not shine bright throughout his career. Inevitably, at some stage it will start dimming and it’s the sign of a wise athlete to know when the moment has come to turn it off,” he stated.
“Even if my role is to be a super domestique, I have to perform at the highest level. When we take part in the most important race of the year, I have to be an asset to the team, not a liability.”
He said that while he could have continued racing for another season as per his existing contract, he wouldn’t have been competitive.