In Italy and abroad there have been hints that Claudio Corti is interested in having 2006 Giro di Italia winner, Ivan Basso, as part of his Barloworld team. The 30 year-old Italian from Varese was suspended on June 15 for his association with Operación Puerto; he will be able to return to racing October 24 – in time for the Japan Cup, October 28. However, the Team Manager of Barloworld noted that he is not focused on Basso, but on the 2008 racing season and the 2009 sponsorship negotiations.
"According to reports around the world, people seem to think I am keen to sign Ivan Basso," noted Corti yesterday afternoon from South Africa, where his team won race three of the Super Challenge Series.
"It's true that I had some contact with Basso approximately a year and half ago when he was initially cleared but I want to clarify that Team Barloworld and Ivan Basso are not holding negotiations. We are still defining our plans for 2009 and beyond with the main sponsor and so it's unthinkable that we could be holding talks at this moment with any rider."
2007 Giro winner, Danilo Di Luca, commented on the idea of having Basso at his side during the team presentation of LPR Brakes over the last weekend. "It would be a stimulating balance," he noted to La Gazzetta dello Sport. The two rode together in December as part of a charity ride.
"Racing in the same team would be a great way to gage the force of your team-mate." Di Luca has a one-year contract with LPR Brakes, so it is probable that the two could race together for 2009.
"By March I will probably decide," stated Basso to La Gazzetta dello Sport regarding his future team. "I already have an idea of the riders I would like to have at my side. It would be an Italian team and well organised."
As for the suggestion of a discounted suspension, Basso stated that he does not want this. "They disqualified me for a reason. It is right that I have to hang my head low and that I pay. However, after, I will return with my head held high."
Read Cyclingnews'recent interview with Corti.