Beltran banned from racing in France, Bouygues Telecom sign Japanese rider

Spanish EPO abuser not welcome, Grand Tour hopes for youngster

Spanish cyclist Manuel Beltran has been banned from racing in France for two years after testing positive for the banned blood booster EPO at this year's Tour de France.

Beltran, who rode for the Liquigas team, was excluded from the race after the seventh stage on July 11 after it was revealed a sample taken from the first stage of the Tour tested positive for EPO (erythropoietin).

A former teammate of seven-time winner Lance Armstrong, the 37-year-old Beltran was one of seven positive drugs cases at this year's race.

Top French road racing team sign rising Japanese talent

Top French cycling team Bouygues Telecom have signed a former Japanese national champion for the 2009 season.

Yukiya Arashiro, the Japanese champion in 2007, becomes one of the few riders from his country to be given a chance to compete in Europe's elite cycling peloton.

However Bouygues are hoping the 24-year-old, who is said to be comfortable on most types of terrain, will show his full potential in one of cycling's three Grand Tours.

"Welcoming a promising Japanese cyclist to our team shows we are aware of and ready to explore emerging talents elsewhere in the world," said team manager Jean-Rene Bernaudeau.

A professional in Japanese teams since 2006, Arashiro, won a stage on the Tour of Limousin in France in August, and finished the race third overall.

Bernaudeau added: "He likes to go on long breakaways, he's fast and he's comfortable on small climbs. We'd like to see him race a three-week Tour and see what he's capable of this year."

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