Saxo Bank did not offer a contract to Ivan Basso, ending speculation that the Danish outfit were after the Italian's signature. “He is a great rider and a good guy, but we have not offered him a contract,” Saxo Bank General Manager Trey Greenwood told Cyclingnews.
“It is very romantic and interesting, because he used to ride for us, but it's just not true,” he said.
The Gazzetta dello Sport reported last week that Saxo Bank had made an offer for Basso, but withdrew it due to financial difficulties. The Italian extended his current contract with Team Liquigas for an additional two years.
“Offering someone a contract is a very serious matter. It is the final step in a long process between our management and a rider, and that process has not taken place,” Greenwood continued.
Basso rode for the Danish team from 2004 to 2006, when it was named Team CSC. While there he won the Giro d'Italia and finished second in the Tour de France. He was suspended for his involvement in Operacion Puerto, with his contract ultimately being dissolved in October 2006. He was suspended for two years, before returning to racing at the end of 2008.
“He is a good rider,” Greenwood said. “The expectations were high for his comeback, and I think he met them. He is a very classy guy, very professional. He continued to train the entire time he was suspended, and did very well when he came back. Ivan is well respected by his fellow riders.”
Greenwood added two reasons why the team were not interested in signing Basso. First of all, “where would he fit into the team?” With Andy and Fränk Schleck, Saxo Bank already has “two good contenders for the Grand Tours.”
Secondly, Basso already had a contract with Liquigas for 2010. “We are not, and never have been, a team to go after riders with another team,” Greenwood said. “We need to respect one another, and teams need to treat each other properly.”