Key signings for Astana as Westra and Pellizotti ink deals with Kazakhstani squad
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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Key signings for Astana as Westra and Pellizotti ink deals with Kazakhstani squad

by Shane Stokes at 2:40 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Five riders have current contracts extended

Lieuwe WestraAfter making some key signings last year, including the subsequent Giro d’Italia winner Vincenzo Nibali and seventh-place Tour de France finisher Jakob Fuglsang, the Astana team is continuing to strengthen its lineup.

It has confirmed new contracts with Lieuwe Westra and Franco Pellizotti, who will both move to the squad at the end of the current season.

Westra will move to the team after five years with the Vacansoleil DCM squad. The structure has struggled in its search for replacement sponsors and seeing the opportunity with Astana, the current Dutch time trial champion has decided that a move is the best option for him.

He won a stage in this year’s Tour of California and last season was victorious in the general classification of the Tour of Denmark and in taking a stage of Paris-Nice. He showed his all round strengths in finishing second overall to Bradley Wiggins in the latter race.

Astana general manager Alexander Vinokourov sees him as a key signing, both as a race contender himself and also as a key helper to the team’s top rider.

“Lieuwe is a very strong time trialist and climber, and joins Astana as a rider who could help Vincenzo Nibali next year at the Tour de France,” he said.

He sees Pellizotti as another who could be a strong ally for Nibali.

“Franco is a veteran rider with more than ten years of experience as a professional, and we are very happy to welcome him back among his friends and family,” he said. “He rode at Liquigas-Cannondale with Vincenzo and they know each other well.

“He will be a valuable asset in our preparations for the Tour de France next year.”

Pellizotti was initially victorious in the mountains classification in the 2009 Tour de France and also finished second in that year’s Giro d’Italia, although he subsequently ran into problems with his biological passport and had those results plus others stripped.

He was given a two year ban, then returned to action in May 2012. He took a number of high placings in Italian events and won the national road race championships. This year, he took second overall in the Route du Sud and was eleventh in the Giro d’Italia.

Westra has signed up for a two year deal, while Pellizotti is being brought on board for one.

The team has also confirmed that it has given extensions to five of its current riders. Dmitriy Muravyev, Borut Bozic, Francesco Gavazzi and Paolo Tiralongo have been given new one year contracts for 2014, while Fabio Aru gets a three year extension until the end of 2016.


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