Astarloza announces his retirement

Euskaltel-Euskadi stalwart Mikel Astarloza has announced that he is to retire from racing following his participation in the Tour of Beijing later this month. In an open letter released to his team, Astarloza described the decision as “the hardest I have had to take up to now, but I am going to be 34 and I believe this is the moment for a lifestyle change.”

Astarloza turned pro in 2002 with Ag2r, who were pointed in the Basque rider’s direction by his cousin Iñigo Chaurreau, who was then one of the leaders on the French team. The following season Astarloza won the Tour Down Under, which was his most notable success until he joined Euskaltel in 2007.

He quickly established himself as one of the leaders on the Basque squad, particularly at the Tour de France. In 2009, he won the 16th stage of the Tour, but was subsequently stripped of the victory when it was revealed he had tested positive for EPO the previous month. Banned for two years, he returned to racing with Euskaltel in 2011.

“I’ve always said that I loved the Tour de France and being able to ride it nine times has been an honour,” said Astarloza. “It’s been a long road on which I’ve made many friends, I’ve visited a lot of places and I will leave with some very wonderful memories.”

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Peter Cossins has written about professional cycling since 1993 and is a contributing editor to Procycling. He is the author of The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling's Greatest One-Day Races (Bloomsbury, March 2014) and has translated Christophe Bassons' autobiography, A Clean Break (Bloomsbury, July 2014).