Astana takes on Italian flavour
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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Astana takes on Italian flavour

by Ben Atkins at 11:57 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Team Astana has taken on the services of four Italians, two riders and two directors. Paolo Tiralongo and Enrico Gasparotto both join from Lampre-NGC, the former after four years with the blue and fuscia team. Tiralongo, as a climber, has been Damiano Cunego’s most faithful lieutenant for the past four years but now leaves to work for another captain in Alberto Contador.

"I was looking for a new stimulus,” Tiralongo told “I reviewed everything before going to Astana because I had received three other offers: Garmin, Sky and Vacansoleil. But the idea of working with Alberto Contador is exciting. Astana is a serious project and I can be confident."

Giuseppi Martinelli and Guido Bontempi both join the team as directors from Amica Chips-Knauf. Martinelli is one of the most successful Italian directors in recent years, having won the Giro d’Italia with Marco Pantani, Stefano Garzelli, Gilberto Simoni and Damiano Cunego. Both men, like Tiralongo and Gasparotto, are formerly of the Lampre team, having been directors there before leaving at the end of last season to take up positions with the San Marino based team.

Gorazd Stangelj also joins Astana after two years at Liquigas. The Slovenian also has a history with Martinelli and Bontempi, after riding for them at Lampre for three years between 2005 and 2007, and at Saeco in 2004.

These latest signings – particularly those of Martinelli and Bontempi – show Astana’s confidence in retaining its ProTour licence into 2010. The acquisition of Tiralongo also shows how confident the Kazakh team is of retaining Tour de France winner Alberto Contador.

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