Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Mikel Astarloza ends career















After 12 years as a professional, Mikel Astarloza has decided to end his career come the end of the current season.

The 33-year-old will finish his career on the bike at the upcoming Tour of Beijing, Astarloza writes in a press release on Tuesday.

"Although I've only been able to lift my arms in celebration three times, my biggest triumph has been to be able to enjoy my profession and make a living of what I like the most, pushing the pedals...

"It's been a long journey on which I've made many friends and seen a lot of new places - I'll take with me many fond memories. Retiring is the hardest decision I've had to make so far, but I'm turning 34 and I think it's time to change my lifestyle.

"I'll leave behind me many things that I'll for sure go on to miss, but I'll take on the new objectives in life with the same motivation I've always done".

Astarloza refrains from saying what these "new objectives" actually consist of, but be makes no mention of staying in the world of cycling.

The native of Pasaia, Gipuzkoa, entered the cycling world in 2002 with French team Ag2r Prévoyance, making the step into the professional ranks from Olarra-Ercoreca - later to be known as Orbea, Euskaltel's long-standing feeder team.

He stayed in France for five years and grabbed arguably his biggest win already in his second year, winning the Tour Down Under outright.

The powerful all-rounder matured into a decent GC rider after joining Euskaltel in time for the 2007 season, but his career and reputation was forever tarnished by his EPO positive after winning stage 16 of the 2009 Tour de France.

Ever since returning from his doping ban, Astarloza has failed to hit the heights of his form pre-ban. His 2013 season has been high on race days but low on top results, his 14th on home roads in the Clásica San Sebastián his standout performance.

Photo: BCPT

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