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Astarloa faces retirement for lack of new team

By:
Susan Westemeyer
Published:
December 22, 2009, 11:00,
Updated:
December 22, 2009, 11:11
Edition:
First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Igor Astarloa (Spain)

Igor Astarloa (Spain)

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Former World Champion still under investigation in biological passport programme

Former World Champion Igor Astarloa is on the verge of retiring at the age of 33. The Spaniard, who is under investigation for irregular blood values under the International Cycling Union's (UCI) biological passport programme, has been unable to find a team for the coming year.

“I will most likely not continue next year,” he told biciciclismo.com. “I can say about 90 per cent that I will hang up my bike.”

Astarloa turned pro in 2000 with Mercatone-Uno, and rode for Saeco, Cofidis, Lampre, Barloworld, Milram and Amica-Chips Knauf in his 10-year career.

His biggest year was 2003, his second year with Saeco. That spring he won the Flèche Wallonne, as the first Spaniard to win a Spring Classic in 76 years. He followed it up with the surprise win in the World road Championships in Hamilton, Canada, in October that year.

Astarloa signed with Cofidis the following season, but stayed with the French team only a few months. The team withdrew itself from competition on April 20, 2004, in order to deal with the doping controversy involving several of its riders. The Spaniard was allowed to leave the team, and he signed with Lampre for the remainder of the year.

After two years with second-division Barloworld, Astarloa surprisingly returned to the top division with Team Milram in 2007. In his first year with the German team, he was only able to ride through until mid-June, when he had to stop due to a toxoplasmosis infection.

Milram announced on May 29, 2008, that it had ended his contract with Astarloa due to irregular blood values. He denied any manipulation.

He then signed with the division three team Amica Chips-Knauf for the 2009 season, but the team stopped due to financial reasons the end of May.

Astarloa's string of bad news continued as he was named in June of this year for being one of the first five riders to be investigated under the UCI's biological-passport programme. With the investigation continuing, disiplinary action is yet to been taken against Astarloa.