Italian cycling star Ivan Basso will make his comeback, following a doping ban, next week in Japan before racing against old rival Lance Armstrong at the Giro d'Italia next May.
Former CSC and Discovery Channel rider Basso said Friday he will make his return at the Japan Cup on October 26.
"It's back to square one for me," said the Italian, who now rides with the Liquigas team. "It's really like the start of a whole new career."
Basso's last race was on March 30, 2007 at the Tour of Castille and Leon in Spain. After that, suspicions of his involvement in the Operation Puerto drugs affair in Spain led to him being sanctioned for nearly two years.
"I can't wait to get the race number back on, to have those feelings of excitement and anticipation before the race," added the 30-year-old Italian. "I've paid for my crime. I'm at peace with myself."
After resuming his career in Japan Basso would like to race next year's Tour of Italy, where he is likely to bump into former rival, Lance Armstrong, who is returning to the sport after a three-year hiatus.
"He will be the logical favourite for the Giro," added Basso, who has promised to kickstart his season in 2009 in South America, at the Tour de San Luis, in Argentina, before heading to the Tour of California in February then the Tirreno-Adriatico in March.
The Giro will then be his first big test.
"The pink jersey (of the Giro d'Italia) is my big objective," said Basso, who coasted to victory in the 2006 edition while riding for CSC.
It was a month later that the Italian, and numerous other big names, were prevented from racing the Tour de France - due to ongoing suspicions on their links to the Puerto affair.
© BikeRadar & AFP 2008