Tour de France rider Ivan Basso in testicular cancer shock
Lance Armstrong offers support after minor crash leads to cancer diagnosis for veteran rider
Lance Armstrong has offered his support to cyclist Ivan Basso after the Tinkoff-Saxo rider withdrew from the Tour de France after being diagnosed with testicular cancer.
The 37-year-old Italian cyclist, a two-time Giro d'Italia winner, made the shock announcement at an emotional press conference on Monday. On what was a rest day in the Tour, Basso's declaration stunned the cycling world and left teammate Alberto Contador deeply upset.
Basso was scheduled to play a key part in the coming days, supporting Contador as the Tour takes to the towering peaks of the Pyrenees. Instead the veteran rider told a hushed press corps at his team's hotel in Pau: "Unfortunately I have a bad announcement to give to you guys. In stage number five I had a really small crash and on the crash I touched my testicle on the saddle. For a few days I felt a small pain. Yesterday [Sunday] our doctor spoke with the doctor of the Tour and we decided to go to make a special analysis to the hospital. The examination gave me bad news: I have a small cancer in the left testicle."
Confirming that he will return to Italy as soon as possible, Basso said: "Our doctor is already in contact with the specialist in Italy to fix the operation as soon as possible."
Basso, who served a two-year doping ban between 2006 and 2008, addressed the press just two hours after receiving his devastating news, and while he wore the look of a dazed and confused individual, Contador was emotional and expressive, saying: "It has been a very tough day for the whole team; we never imagined something like that. Now the first thing is to analyse what's happened to Ivan, to support him and hope that everything's resolved as soon as possible... for me it has been very hard because over the last 180 days we spent 120 days together and we have been very close to each other."
Contador added that he was confident Basso would be present in Paris on July 26th "to celebrate the Tour victory", but the rider himself made no predictions on his immediate future.
Support from the cycling world flooded in following Basso's announcement, with one of the first messages from Lance Armstrong. The disgraced former champion overcame testicular cancer nearly 20 years ago, going on to win seven Tour de France titles before they were stripped from him in 2013 after he confessed to serial doping.
"Thinking about @ivanbasso and wishing him the very best as he embarks on his cancer journey," Armstrong wrote on his Twitter account, adding in a twist on the LiveStrong cancer charity he founded: "#IvanSTRONG!!"