Astana and Katusha ambitious for Tour of Belgium success
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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Astana and Katusha ambitious for Tour of Belgium success

by Ben Atkins at 1:59 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour of Belgium
East European teams chasing repeat successes in the races of the North

simon spilakAstana and Katusha are both sending ambitious teams to the Tour of Belgium - Ronde van België/Tour de Belgique - which starts in Mechelen tomorrow, May 23rd. Both teams have enjoyed recent success in northern Europe, with Astana taking the Amstel Gold Race and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, through Enrico Gasparotto and Maxim Iglinskiy respectively, while Katusha took la Flèche Wallonne through Joaquim Rodríguez.

While none of those riders will be present in Belgium this week [Gasparotto and Rodríguez are riding the Giro d’Italia, where the Katusha rider currently holds the race lead - ed] both teams are sending ambitious squads to the five-day race.

“We are here in Belgium to do well and we have got a varied team that will be able to adapt easily to the various stages,” explained Astana directeur sportif Guido Bontempi. “In the first two days in Flanders, our leading men will be [Borut] Bozič and [Jacopo] Guarnieri since these are sprinters’ stages where they can definitely get good results. The Ardennes stages, with their finishes, are best suited to [Francesco] Gavazzi. Francesco has not ridden since Liège and he will have a chance to get back to race tempo over the coming days.

“Meanwhile we will be counting on [Dimitriy] Muravyev for the general classification,” Bontempi added. “For him the Tour of Belgium is one of the lead-in races to the Tour de France and he will not let this opportunity pass him by.”

With many of its top riders at the Giro, and with a team travelling to the Bayern Rundfahrt, Katusha will only be sending seven out a possible eight riders to the Belgian Tour, which was won by its rider Vladimir Gusev in 2007 [before the team was created - ed]. Gusev will be one of the riders travelling to Bayern, but will have Slovenian Simon Spilak (pictured) - who has taken top tens overall in Paris-Nice, the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, and the Tour de Romandie so far this season - to support in the overall classification, as well as recently re-signed Alexander Kolobnev.

The team’s one Belgian rider, Maxime Vantomme, heads to his home Tour, buoyed with confidence after taking victory in the non-UCI Heistse Pijl, where he outsprinted Irish champion Matt Brammier (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Eliot Lietaer (Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator) and a recovered Jürgen Roelandts (Lotto-Belisol) in a break of four.

Astana team for the Tour of Belgium/Ronde van België/Tour de Belgique
Borut Bozič, Dmitriy Fofonov, Francesco Gavazzi, Andriy Grivko, Dmitriy Gruzdev, Jacopo Guarnieri, Dimitriy Muravyev and Sergey Renev

Katusha Team for the Tour of Belgium/Ronde van België/Tour de Belgique
Maxim Belkov, Joan Horrach, Petr Ignatenko, Alexander Kolobnev, Simon Spilak, Alexey Tsatevich and Maxime Vantomme


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