Italian rider Ivan Basso has signed a two-season contract to ride for the Discovery Channel cycling team starting in 2007, team director Johan Bruyneel announced Wednesday in Austin, Texas.
“We are excited about Ivan joining the team and we’re looking forward to having him at Discovery Channel’s training camp in Austin on December 3,” Bruyneel said.
The announcement came only 12 days after the Italian cycling federation dropped an inquiry into allegations that Basso was involved in the Spanish Operación Puerto investigation.
Earlier, the 28-year-old Basso had been cleared by the Italian Olympic Committee and officials determined there was no proof of wrongdoing or need for disciplinary hearings after examining more than 500 pages of documents.
Basso will take the lead role formerly held by Lance Armstrong during his streak of seven consecutive Tour de France titles.
“I am very excited to have Ivan as a part of the team,” said Discovery team general manager Bill Stapleton. “During Lance’s final Tours, Ivan pushed Lance to a new level and we expect great things from him in 2007.”
Basso was barred from this year’s Tour de France after being implicated in a Spanish doping investigation. He was cleared last month by the Italian Olympic Committee and Italian cycling federation and left his Danish team, CSC, three weeks ago.
Discovery has been interested in Basso since before he left Fassa Bortolo and went to CSC in 2004. The Italian finished third in the 2004 Tour de France and was second in 2005 behind Armstrong.