Ivan Basso will attempt to give Team Liquigas wins in 2009, but also share his experience with its riders. The Italian from Varese, 30, will start riding with his new squad this Sunday at the Japan Cup.
"Liquigas, even without Basso, has a group of athletes with the capacity to win the big races without problems," said Basso Friday. "With my arrival the team is re-enforced. The team took me onboard to win races, but it is also important that I bring along my experiences to the existing athletes."
The Italian cycling federation (FCI) suspended Basso on June 15, 2007, for his links with Spanish Doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, centre of 2006's Operación Puerto doping investigation. He admitted to investigating prosecutor Ettore Torri during that he gave blood to Fuentes. His suspension ends October 24.
Team Liquigas announced it signed Basso in April for two years. Friday's press conference was the official presentation of Basso and a smaller part of an annual Liquigas sales convention.
Basso joins strong stage racers Franco Pellizotti, Vincenzo Nibali and Roman Kreuziger, sprinter Daniele Bennati and younger talents. He won the 2006 Giro d'Italia and a stage in the 2005 Tour de France, and he plans to share these and other experiences with his new teammates.
"I will provide a good advantage in the stage races. They will have an advantage of having someone that has won a Grand Tour and that has carried the leader's jersey in big races. It will be double duty – to win and to help my teammates win."
The Japan Cup will be Basso's only race in 2008. He will start his 2009 season at the Tour de San Luis, Argentina.