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Ivan Basso (Liquigas)
Tentative offer from Saxo Bank withdrawn
Ivan Basso has extended his contract with Team Liquigas for another two years, after allegedly getting an offer from his former Team Saxo Bank.
According to the Gazzetta dello Sport, Basso has extended with Liquigas through 2012, with an option for a third year. The Italian team signed him after he returned from his two-year suspension.
Basso had received an offer from Saxo Bank manager Bjarne Riis, the Italian newspaper said, although Riis had said he doubted Basso would ever ride for the team again. However, the team had to withdraw its offer due to a lack of sponsors and the subsequent financial difficulties.
In 2007, Basso admitted that bags of blood found under the name “Birillo” during Operación Puerto belonged to him. However, he denied ever having used the blood, saying “It was only attempted doping.”
Basso belonged to Riis' squad from 2004 to 2006 when it was called Team CSC. While with the Danish team, he finished second in the Tour de France (2005) and won the Giro d'Italia (2006).
However, Basso was suspended by Saxo Bank the day before the 2006 Tour de France started, after being named a suspect in Operación Puerto. Team manager Bjarne Riis said at the time that it was unlikely that Basso would ever ride for the team again, and the contract terminated in October. Later that month, Basso was acquitted by the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI) for a lack of evidence.
Shortly thereafter, he signed with Discover Channel for the 2007 season, but the team suspended him in the spring when CONI reopened the case, and subsequently released him.
After serving out his suspension, Basso joined Liquigas and finished third in his first race back, the 2008 Japan Cup. This season he won the Giro del Trentino and was fifth overall in the Giro d'Italia and fourth overall in the Vuelta a España.