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Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel-Euskadi) on the podium after his stage win.
Ban for EPO ends June 26
Euskaltel-Euskadi's injury crisis could pave the way for the return of Mikel Astarloza with the banned rider's sanction coming to an end on June 26.
Astarloza tested positive for EPO a little over three weeks before his stage win in Bourg-Saint-Maurice at the 2009 Tour de France. The result of the positive test was not revealed until after the Tour. In May last year, he was handed a two-year ban by the Spanish cycling federation.
Euskaltel-Euskadi's team manager, Igor González de Galdeano, told Basque daily El Correo that there was a place for Astarloza in the depleted squad.
"A couple of months ago I asked him and, as we had the whole team it was not possible [for him to return]," he explained. "But then we've had problems with injuries from crashes. Mikel is a person much-loved in Guipúzcoa and also among the Basque fans. And he's a good rider. Because of all that, we are now planning for him to return to the team."
Astarloza maintained his innocence throughout his ban.