Astana delighted with Kessiakoff’s Vuelta, not happy with Kashechkin
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Thursday, September 01, 2011

Astana delighted with Kessiakoff’s Vuelta, not happy with Kashechkin

by VeloNation Press at 6:36 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Vuelta a España
 
Swedish rider has exceeded expectations while Kazakhstan competitor promised too much

Fredrik KessiakoffAstana rider Fredrik Kessiakoff continues to ride strongly in the Vuelta a España, finishing with the main GC contenders on yesterday’s mountain stage and moving from fifth to fourth overall. The Swede had started the day 34 seconds behind race leader Chris Froome, and 22 off the time of Jakob Fuglsang (Leopard Trek). Both of those lost time and Kessiakoff moved past Fuglsang in the general classification.

He ended the day 14 seconds off the new race leader Bradley Wiggins (Sky Procycling) and is consequently inching closer to the red jersey.

Given that he went into the race as a support rider for the designated leader Andrey Kashechkin, his performance has come as a big surprise to both himself, as Kessiakoff told VeloNation in an interview yesterday, and to his team.

General manager Giuseppe Martinelli is consequently delighted with how things have been going. “Honestly, I am really pleasantly surprised by the performance of Fredrik,” he said, “but I won’t set him a final objective and put pressure on him. There are two very difficult mountain stages remaining and we will see what can happen at that time.

“Whatever [happens], we are here to support him. We stay serene and we are already very happy; he exceeded our expectations.”

One rider who hasn’t done that is Kashechkin, who completed a rare mid-season transfer from Lampre in order to lead the squad. His Vuelta has been a big disappointment, with his best stage placing being 51st. Astana commercial director Aydar Mahmet has indicated that he is not happy.

“The first two days inspired great hope and optimism, and then began the vertical fall of Kashechkin,” he said, according to sport.nur.kz.

“If you ask whether I thought that Kashechkin does not have the confidence of the fans, then I’d say yes, I think so. Because it was not necessary to give beautiful promises and then not even be close to delivering on them.”

He said that it was too soon to write him off, though, and that with the right training the rider could yet deliver on his ‘enormous potential.’

“Now he has to get the results… I hope that Andrey will make the right conclusions and will not throw more promises about in the press.”

Kashechkin finished third in the 2006 Vuelta a España with Astana, also winning a stage and helping Alexandre Vinokourov to overall victory. One year later he tested positive for a blood transfusion and was fired from the team. He returned recently and has a contract with the squad until the end of 2013.

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