Cycling has got to be the best sport for second chances and drama and there is no better
drama than a tale of redemption - the fallen hero liberated from
past indiscretions and finding their true selves.
many of our modern day heroes seem impervious to a redemptive moment,
preferring instead to fall back on PR speak or a jargon that hides
their true feelings.
In a sporting world where supercharged masculinity is the norm, to show a glimpse of the man within is often deemed a weakness.
However one man recently gave us a small glimpse into who he is, Ivan Basso.
Reading through a routine race report from the Giro del Trentino, a race Basso had just won, I came across this great quote from him about his time away from the sport.
I'm sure it reads even better in Italian.
I have been through three difficult years. And I dedicate this success
to my family for all the things they have had to suffer and also to the
team who have placed their confidence in me. However, these bad experiences have only served to strengthen my resolve.
This thing (his involvement in the Puerto scandal) should never have
happened. It will remain an indelible stain on my career, and on my
reputation, but I believe that people who are winners, who have
character and charisma, succeed in turning over a leaf.
I have restarted from zero, with my feet firmly on the ground. I knew
well that I could not return at the same level which I was at when I
I have returned a humble man and worked in silence. Now I am thinking
of the Giro: it will be my first major stage race for three years and I
know that it could be difficult, but the team is motivated and
competitive to put on a good show.
To me that reads more like a soliloquy from a man who has looked at
who he is and found himself wanting, something that should make his
return to the Girod'Italia all the more poignant and quite possibly a race of redemption.
On Sunday, Basso goes into the Giro as one of the heavy favourites along with riders Like Danilo Di Luca, Denis Menchov and Levi Leipheimer - no doubt amongst the Italian "Tifosi" he will be the favourite to take out the race.
or clean, Basso has always had a beautiful quality on the bike, the way
he sits on the saddle the smoothness of his pedalling technique and his
seemingly effortless climbing ability.
But it's also his quiet gentle demeanor off it has always engaged fans.
This introspection following his time away from racing makes him my favourite, more-so because I'm a sucker for a good second chance story.