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Boonen set to return after coke suspension

FORMER world champion Tom Boonen will resume cycling next week and his team Quick Step said on Monday that it could take legal action if necessary to get him into the Tour de France despite his second positive cocaine test in as many years.

Boonen drew a heavy fine from his team on top of his suspension after his failed test last month. But Quick Step said its top rider would resume cycling at the June 2 local race in Gullegem before heading to the Dauphine Libere, a preparation race for the Tour.

Tour organizers have already said they would bar Boonen from cycling's premier event, just like they did last year after his first infraction.

But team manager Patrick Lefevere told VRT network that since Boonen was not suspended by the UCI world federation for the use of a recreational drug out of competition, he should be able to take part. Lefevere said he would go to a special arbitration court in Paris to get a ruling for Boonen if necessary.

Tour organizers "may be counting on home advantage there. I hope that if it gets to this, there will be, somewhere in Paris, a just judge," said Lefevere.

Boonen, 28, is one of the world's most explosive finishers and in 2007, he won the Tour's green jersey as best sprinter. He's already proved his top form this season by winning Paris-Roubaix, one of the world's top one-day races, for a third time.

Boonen was resting between the spring classics and the preparation races for the Tour de France when he tested positive.

Meanwhile, Spain's Carlos Sastre staged a stunning late charge to win the 16th stage of the Giro d'Italia on Monday and Russia's Denis Menchov stayed top of the overall standings.

Cervelo's Sastre, the 2008 Tour de France winner, reeled in Ukrainian Yaroslav Popovych on the final climb to finish the 237km slog from Pergola in seven hours 11 minutes 54 seconds.

Popovych looked to be on his way to victory when he zipped away from fellow escapees Damiano Cunego and Gabriele Bosisio of Italy. But he faded in the closing stages and Sastre, who had briefly looked in trouble, took advantage to claim a superb win and move from fifth to third overall.


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