2003 world champion Astarloa facing retirement
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Monday, December 21, 2009

2003 world champion Astarloa facing retirement

by Conal Andrews at 8:34 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping

2003 world champion Igor Astarloa has said that he is almost certain to retire from professional cycling. “The most likely thing is that I won’t continue next year,” the 33 year old said, according to Biciciclismo. “It’s 90% sure that I will hang up my bike. Given the current situation, something unusual would have to happen. Some stages [paths] end and others begin.”

Astarloza stunned the world of cycling when he won the rainbow jersey in Hamilton, Canada, in September 2003. The Spaniard had taken the Flèche Wallonne Classic earlier that year, as well as stage three of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, but nobody expected him to shine in the most important one-day race of the season. He rocketed away on the final climb of the race and the favourites such as Peter Van Petegem (Belgium), Paolo Bettini (Italy) and Michael Boogerd (Netherlands) were unable to respond.

While he did take some other wins such as the 2006 Milan-Turin, he never reached the same heights again. He competed for the Cofidis, Lampre, Barloworld and Milram teams between 2004 and 2008, being fired from the latter when he displayed irregular blood values at that year’s Giro d’Italia. He recently sued the team for that dismissal and a settlement was made.

Things really started to unravel in 2009. His Amica Chips teams was suspended due to economic problems and, to make things even worse, he was named in June as one of five riders that the UCI was going to open disciplinary proceedings against.

These were the first bio-passport cases in cycling. Astarloa, fellow Spaniards Ricardo Serrano and Rúben Lobato plus the Italians Pietro Caucchioli and Francesco De Bonis were faulted for what the UCI termed was their "apparent violation of the anti-doping rules on the basis of the information provided by the blood profile in their biological passports".

No sanction has yet been announced but Astarloa has clearly decided not to wait around.


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