PAU, France — Ivan Basso (Tinkoff-Saxo) announced in an emotional rest-day press conference Monday that he has testicular cancer and will withdraw from the Tour de France immediately.
Basso, a grand tour winner who was to be a key lieutenant to Alberto Contador as the Tour heads into the mountains, experienced pain in his left testicle. He was examined by the team doctor over the weekend and then underwent tests at a hospital in the rest-day town of Pau. He found out about the cancer Monday morning.
The Italian sat next to a teary-eyed Contador as he spoke to the press midday Monday.
“Unfortunately I have a bad announcement to give to you guys,” Basso said. “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.
“So it’s easy to understand that I have to stop and go back to Italy. Our doctor is already in contact with the specialist in Italy to fix the operation as soon as possible. I can’t say to you more details because we discovered this two hours ago, so that’s all.
“I have to leave but I want to give my support to our captain [Contador] to be in yellow in Paris and want to say thanks to my team for their support in this situation and the whole Tour organization and medical staff.”
An emotional Contador said the news had been hard to take both for him personally and the rest of the team.
“It has been a very tough day for the whole team; we never imagined something like that,” Contador said. “Now the first thing is to analyze what’s happened to Ivan, to support him and hope that everything’s resolved as soon as possible.
“We want to give Ivan the support of the whole team and you can be sure we will fight for the yellow jersey to bring him yellow in Paris.
“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. But I’m sure that we will be together again in Paris to celebrate the Tour victory.”