Can Astarloa set the world alight once more?

Igor Astarloa will join the Italian Liquigas-Bianchi for 2006, and will be hoping to rediscover the

Igor Astarloa will join the Italian Liquigas-Bianchi for 2006, and will be hoping to rediscover the
In a last-minute change-of-heart, 2003 world champion Igor Astarloa will next year attempt to kickstart his career with the Liquigas-Bianchi outfit, and not Lampre-Fondital, as had been widely expected. The Spaniard has struggled to live up to his potential since his win at the road world championships in Hamilton, Canada, two years ago, and Liquigas-Bianchi will be his fourth team since winning the title with Saeco. A move to Cofidis for 2004 saw Astarloa head to Lampre just two months into the season when the French team was being investigated for doping and had its race programme suspended. In a mutual agreement, Astarloa spent the rest of his season in the world champion's rainbow jersey at Lampre before deciding to join the continental team Barloworld-Valsir for 2005. A wrist injury after a crash at the Classic Haribo at the start of last season ruled out much of the first half of the year, but Astarloa managed to salvage a stage win at the Tour of Burgos in August. But now, with Liquigas-Bianchi and their ProTour status, Astarloa will be back riding the big events, with the Italian team clearly putting their faith in the 29 year old by allowing him to bring his friend and Barloworld team-mate Peio Arreitunandia with him. Liquigas-Bianchi - home of 2005 ProTour champion Daniele Di Luca - will be boosted by the arrival of 13 new riders to the team for 2006, which will have a total of 30 riders on its roster. Those include Luca Paolini and Stefano Zanini (both from Quick Step) and 2004 junior world champion Roman Kreuziger.
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