Ivan Basso is set to join the American Discovery Channel team according to a report in today's (Wednesday, November 8) Italian sports daily, Gazzetta Dello Sport. The Italian has long been courted by Lance Armstrong's squad, but the move is controversial due to Basso's involvement in Operacion Puerto.
Basso is currently in Japan, but both Lance Armstrong and Basso's manager Giovanni Lombardi are saying it's a done deal and will be made official later today.
Basso, winner of this year's Giro d'Italia, was cleared two weeks ago by the Italian Olympic Committee, after the judge presiding over Operacion Puerto ruled the evidence from the Spanish aurthorities could not be used against him or any other cyclist. His team CSC then parted company with him knowing that evidence against Basso could re-surface next year when Operacion Puerto goes to court.
A UCI spokesman said, "He is free to race today, [but] we said that the conclusion has to be considered as only provisional." He went on to say that if the Spanish judge again allows the UCI to use the evidence they hold, the case against Basso, and the other implicated riders, can be re-opened.
This casts a huge doubt over Basso's future, but Discovery are still willing to risk a reported $6m (over three years) on the Italian in the belief that he can win them the Tour de France next year.
But if the move is finalised, Discovery may well find themselves without a place in next year's Tour de France, as organisers ASO are saying teams will only be invited to ride rather than qualifying through their ProTour standing.
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Editor of Cycling Weekly magazine, Simon has been working at the title since 2001. He fell in love with cycling when channel surfing in 1989 and happening across the greatest ever edition of the Tour de France. He's been a Greg LeMond fan ever since. He started racing in 1995 when moving to university in North Wales gave him more time to train and some amazing roads to train on. He raced domestically for several years, riding everything from Surrey leagues to time trials, track and even a few Premier Calendars. In 2000 he spent one season racing in Belgium with the Kingsnorth International Wheelers.
Since working for Cycling Weekly he has written product reviews, fitness features, pro interviews, race coverage and news. He has covered the Tour de France more times than he can remember along with two Olympic Games and many other international and UK domestic races. He can still be seen at his club's evening races through the summer but he still hasn't completed the CW5000 challenge!
SIMON IS CURRENTLY RIDING
Road bike: Pinarello K8S with Shimano Dura Ace
TT bike: Specialized Venge road bike with FFWD wheels and Easton Attack TT bars
Gravel bike: N/A
Training bike: Rourke custom hand made with Reynolds 853 steel
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