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Euskaltel shows qualified support for Astarloza

Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel - Euskadi).

Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel - Euskadi). (Image credit: Sirotti)

The Euskaltel-Euskadi team have shown qualified support for Mikel Astarloza after it was confirmed at the end of last week that the 30-year-old Spanish rider has been banned for two years having tested positive for EPO. A statement posted on the Euskadi Foundation’s website suggested that the evidence against 2009 Tour de France stage-winner Astarloza was not convincing.

"After a resolution that was not definitive, the cyclist has got a long road ahead of him in preparing his defence, and we hope that the rider can demonstrate his innocence. Once his suspension is completed on June 26, 2011, we hope that the rider can return to competition."

Euskaltel have steadfastly backed Astarloza since the first reports of his positive test emerged in the immediate wake of the 2009 Tour de France, where he won the 16th stage. His positive test for EPO took place on June 26 last year, just 25 days before that Tour stage win.

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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).