Ivan Basso finished third in his first race back after his doping suspension, the Japan Cup in Utsonomiya, Japan on Sunday. The Liquigas rider was part of an all-Italian breakaway along with race winner Damiano Cunego (Lampre) and second placed Giovanni Visconti which finished over a minute ahead of the peloton in the 151-kilometre race.
The race was Basso's first competition after his 16-month suspension for his involvement with the Operación Puerto doping scandal. Basso admitted to banking blood at the clinic of Eufemiano Fuentes, which was raided by Spanish police in 2006, but denied having re-infused the blood for performance enhancement.
Basso was able to force a selection after his team drove the pace coming into the difficult climb on the penultimate lap. Only Cunego, the winner of this month's Giro di Lombardia Classic, Visconti and Basso's teammate Valerio Agnoli remained. Basso tried to anticipate the sprint, but was passed by Cunego and Visconti.
"Third place in principle is not usually satisfying, but this is different after nearly two years away," Basso said, according to the Associated Press. "On the hilly sections I showed I was at the same level as the winner of the Giro di Lombardia. Now, I can look forward with confidence to next season."