Basso: Pereiro the victor

Basso: Pereiro the moral victor
By Eurosport

06/12/2006 at 20:25Updated

Ivan Basso considers Oscar Pereiro to be the "moral victor" of the Tour de France, though he defended Floyd Landis' right to defend himself against all doping allegations.

"It is a rather delicate question... But, in my opinion, the moral winner of the last Tour de France is Oscar Pereiro, who I hold in high esteem and regard as a formidable guy," Basso told Belgian newspaper La Derniere Heure after the presentation of the 2007 Giro D'Italia.

"But I find it normal and even necessary that Landis has the chance to defend himself to the end. In any case, until the moment when the federal and legal institutions will allow him to go."

Basso was the favourite to win the 2006 Tour de France before being suspended on the eve of the race for doping allegations stemming from the Operation Puerto investigation in Spain.

The American Landis went on to win the Tour in front of Pereiro before it was revealed that he tested positive for excessive testosterone levels during one of his critical stage victories.

"I like Pereiro and Landis, and I would like both to be able to take advantage of the situation," said Basso, who has been cleared to race and plans to ride the Tour with Discovery Channel next season. "But this is impossible."

"And believe me, this is not diplomacy on my part, but only out of respect towards two adversaries who I hold in high estimation."

Basso also told the Belgian newspaper that he was destined to race for Lance Armstrong's former team.

"It was written somewhere that the moment I would be free on the market, I would wear the shirt of Discovery Channel. Incontestably, one of the best teams in the world and which, in my opinion, has just signed a good rider."