Astana not looking to fill slot vacated by Pellizotti contract breakdown
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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Astana not looking to fill slot vacated by Pellizotti contract breakdown

by Shane Stokes at 7:30 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Team complete for 2014; no place for Horner, Sanchez, Anton or others

Franco PellizottiOver twenty four hours after the Astana team announced that Franco Pellizotti will not take up the previously-announced contract with the squad, speculation continues online about another rider potentially taking up the place.

However the team has said that the roster has been completed and, as a result, it will remain as it is for the upcoming season.

“We have a full squad now, headed into the 2014 season. There are no current plans to sign any more riders,” spokesman Chris Baldwin told VeloNation.

In August the team originally stated that Pellizotti would be joining in 2014. However the MPCC [Movement for a Credible Cycling], of which it is a member, verified that its rules would limit when he could start.

“Normally the position is clear. He was suspended from the 3rd of May 2010 until the 3 May 2012 [for biological passport issues –ed]. So he can ride the 3rd May 2014,” MPCC president Roger Legeay told VeloNation in August.

It meant that Pellizotti would be unable to ride preparation races prior to the Giro d’Italia, and would thus be short of form.

That plus the fact that he would be available for less races during the year complicated things and general manager Alexandre Vinokourov confirmed yesterday that the former Italian national champion would be looking elsewhere.

“It's with some sadness and a heavy heart that we will not be racing with Franco Pellizotti next year,” he said.

“Negotiations with the Italian champion have always been optimistic and forthright, but in the end we agreed that we could not go forward with a contract to race with Astana Pro Team in 2014.”

Baldwin’s clarification means that any speculation that Vuelta a España winner Chris Horner, former Olympic champion Samuel Sanchez, Basque climber Igor Anton or another could take up Pellizotti’s place is inaccurate.

The team will be led by 2010 Vuelta a España and 2013 Giro d’Italia winner Vincenzo Nibali. He has set the Tour de France as his prime target for next season, having finished third in 2012 and then missing the race this year in favour of the Giro/Vuelta a España combination. He was second in the latter.

Last week Italian national team coach and former double world champion Paolo Bettini told La Repubblica that he believed that Nibali could win the Tour de France. This was echoed by Italian federation president Renato Di Rocco. “Vincenzo has different characteristics to the others and has a very good head,” he stated.

It remains to be seen where Pellizotti will compete, or indeed if he will be able to get a contract at this late point in the season. A number of teams folded in 2013, saturating the market with riders and also driving down their asking price.

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