Kasheckin confirmed as moving to Astana and targeting top five in Vuelta a España
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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Kasheckin confirmed as moving to Astana and targeting top five in Vuelta a España

by Shane Stokes at 11:24 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Vuelta a España
Controversial rider returns to team four years after positive test

Andrey KashechkinFive years after taking third overall in the Vuelta a España, Andrey Kashechkin has confirmed that he will return to the race once again as part of the Astana team. The 31 year old said earlier this week that he was excited by the thoughts of going back to the Kazakh squad, but that the final arrangements needed to be worked out.

Under the terms of what was proposed to him, he would compete for free for the rest of this season, then have a fully paid contract for 2012 and 2013.

The requirement to race gratis may be related to the fact that he was employed by Lampre-ISD this year. He recently negotiated an end to that contract.

“It's a great day in my cycling career,” the 31 year old said earlier this week. “I really want to return to the Astana team. I am Kazakh and this team is built to represent our nation, and I am proud of my country, that's why it's important to me.

“There are still points to discuss and I will sign a contract soon with the team. My first race should be the Vuelta Espana, where I target the top five in the overall standings.”

Now that deal has been done, and he confirmed today that he’ll compete in the Spanish Tour with the team.

Apart from his podium finish in the 2006 Vuelta, where he also won a stage, he finished third in both the Deutschland Tour and the Clasica San Sebastian that year, and then in 2007 was on the same step of the podium in the Tour de Romandie and the Dauphine Libere.

However he tested positive for a homologous blood transfusion in the 2007 Tour de France and was banned for two years. Since then he hasn’t reached the same form, and had to be content with 17th overall in last year’s Vuelta. It remains to be seen if he is wildly off target with his goal of a top five finish this time round.

His return to the team coincides with the retirement of Alexandre Vinokourov, who fractured his leg in a crash at the Tour de France. The team had been told by the UCI in the past that it could be problematic if it had both on the team, given that each had tested positive. The inference was that it could be refused a ProTeam licence on ethical grounds.

With Vinokourov gone, Kashechkin will slot into the role of Kazakh GC contender.

The Vuelta a España begins in just over two weeks’ time with a 13.5 kilometre team time trial in Benidorm


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