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Two-year Discovery deal for Basso

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AUSTIN, Texas -- Italian rider Ivan Basso signed a two-season contract with the Discovery Channel cycling team starting in 2007, team director Johan Bruyneel announced here Wednesday.

"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 Basso's alleged involvement in the Spanish "Operacion Puerto" investigation.

That was after Basso had been cleared by the Italian Olympic Committee and after officials examined more than 500 pages of documents and determined there was no proof of wrongdoing or need for disciplinary hearings against Basso.

Basso will take the center cyclist spot occupied 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 because of a doping investigation.

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