Igor Astarloa's joining the British-registered Barloworld team appears to be all but completed, even though he has yet to sign his two year contract on the dotted line. After his manager Paolo Zanni confirmed the move late last week, Astarloa himself told Marca, "There will be no problems in reaching an agreement with the Italian team [Astarloa's current squad Lampre-Caffita] and we will speak with them next week."
Lampre-Caffita's director sportif Giuseppe Saronni did not foresee any problems for Astarloa either. "With him, there is nothing to rescind. He can join whoever he wants."
Astarloa, who won the World Championship in 2003, did not have the best of seasons in 2004. After signing a lucrative contract with Cofidis, he decided to leave the team when it became embroiled in a big doping affair that had nothing to do with Astarloa. He then spent the rest of the season with Lampre, winning a stage in the Brixia Tour and finishing third in the HEW Cyclassics World Cup race.