Cyst on buttock 'the size of a lemon' means Italian misses out on chance to challenge for third maglia rosa...

Ivan Basso has withdrawn from the Giro d'Italia just two days before this year's race starts in Naples, due to a cyst on one of his buttocks - according to Italian media reports Basso said it was 'the size of a lemon'. In a statement, the two-time Giro winner's Cannondale team said "It was clear there was no chance of Ivan pedalling during the next days."

The 35-year-old from the province of Varese, Lombardy, won the maglia rosa in 2006 while riding with Team CSC, and again in 2010 with his current outfit when it was known as Liquigas-Doimo.

Since that last win, however, he has struggled to genuinely challenge at Grand Tour level - in last year's Giro he was a peripheral figure among the GC challengers, finishing fifth overall, and in 2011 came seventh overall in the Tour de France.

Basso, who finished second to Lance Armstrong in the 2005 Tour - the American has of course been stripped of that title, but the win will not be reassigned - was expected to have only an outside chance of victory in this year's Giro, where Team Sky's Sir Bradley Wiggins and Astana's Vincenzo Nibali are tipped as the most likely winners.

Recently, Basso gave evidence in the Operacion Puerto trial in Spain. He himself received a two-year ban for his part in the scandal in 2007, although he always insisted he never actually doped, but only thought about doing so.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.