Sanction completed, Mikel Astarloza eligible to return to competition
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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Sanction completed, Mikel Astarloza eligible to return to competition

by VeloNation Press at 6:35 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
Basque rider might start Tour of Poland

Mikel AstarlozaMikel Astarloza is eligible to return to the professional peloton after serving a two-year sentence for the use of Erythropoietin (EPO). The Basque rider won stage sixteen of the 2009 Tour de France and went on to finish eleventh overall. However, the International Cycling Union (UCI) later revealed that he tested positive for EPO on June 26, 2009.

The 31 year old has maintained his innocence and is yet to confess to doping. His former team Euskaltel-Euskadi also supported him even after the positive test. It stated openly that he’d be free to return to the team after his suspension.

There have been reports that Astarloza will be making his return for Euskaltel-Euskadi at the Tour of Poland on the 31st July. However, the rider told, "Nothing is confirmed yet. I will not discuss this until it’s finalised. Neither I nor the team have any news."

Astarloza took part in every Tour de France from 2003 until 2009. His best result came in 2007 when he finished ninth overall. During his suspension he’s kept a high level of fitness, training hard to return to the top of the sport.

"My legs are strong. I have been training a lot for the past two years, trying to be at my best," he said.

"I'm pretty good. I have been strong, I’ve trained hard and we’ll see what happens in the future."

Astarloza admitted he’s been keeping a close eye on this years Tour and believes Euskaltel-Euskadi has got a strong team that can make up the deficit that leader Samuel Sanchez currently faces. Olympic champion Sanchez trails yellow jersey Thor Hushovd by 2’36” and had lost vital time to other favourites such as Andy Schleck and Cadel Evans.


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