Astarloa to seal deal with Barloworld

Former world champion Igor Astarloa is on the verge of leaving Lampre to sign for the UK-registered

Former world champion Igor Astarloa is on the verge of leaving Lampre to sign for the UK-registered
PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE 2003 world champion Igor Astarloa is set to sign for the British-registered Barloworld team next week after agreeing on a deal to end his current contract with Lampre. Some small details have still to be cleared up with Lampre, but the rider, his manager and both teams seem certain that the Basque's move to Barloworld will go ahead. Barloworld have already been granted continental status by the UCI for next season. "It will be a new experience and considering how things were I think it is the best option for me, because I like the plans that have been laid out to me, although we will be dependent on invitations to ride in the major Classics," Astarloa told Spanish news agency EFE. Astarloa's manager, Paolo Zanni, explained how the deal would work. "Next week we will be meeting with Lampre manager Giuseppe Saronni in order to end the contract Astarloa has with them and we will start to work with the new team that during Italian races will have the Valsir company as its principal backer and in the rest of the world will carry Barloworld's name." Zanni admitted that by signing with a team outside the ProTour Astarloa is taking a step back, but added that sometimes it is necessary to make such a move in order to get a career going forwards again. "We are planning for the future and there are some illustrious names involved such as ex-riders Emanuele Bombini, Alberto Elli and Valerio Tebaldi." As well as Astarloa, the South African logistics company has also signed fellow Spaniard David Plaza, Italy's Giuliano Figueras and Colombia's Felix Cardenas, who has won the mountains title at the Vuelta for the past two seasons. In the middle of last season Astarloa did sign a contract with Lampre taking him through to the end of 2005, but the Italian team subsequently joined with Saeco and asked the Basque rider to take a significant pay cut. Saronni said during what was Astarloa's second spell with Lampre that he had been embarrassed by some of the Basque rider's performances in key one-day events.

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