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"For certain Fuglsang will be our captain when we line up to start in Corsica on June 29, but there are still some open slots and it's important to watch how the riders go in Switzerland before we choose the very best for France,&q...

Photo: Sirotti






12.06.2013 @ 08:30 Posted by Jesper Ralbjerg

As the start of the Tour de France draws ever closer, a number of teams have begun announcing preliminary lists of riders up for selection.


Yesterday Astana published a preliminary list of 13 riders eligible for participation in La Grande Boucle and also confirmed that Jakob Fuglsang will head the squad.


The initial 13-man squad will be cut down to 9 riders next week following the conclusion of the on-going Tour de Suisse.


Former Astana rider and current general manager of the team, Alexandre Vinokourov, was unequivocal when it came to announcing the team leader at the French grand tour.


"For certain Fuglsang will be our captain when we line up to start in Corsica on June 29, but there are still some open slots and it's important to watch how the riders go in Switzerland before we choose the very best for France," said Vinokourov.


Fuglsang has built his entire season around the Tour de France, and last week narrowly missed out on the podium at Critérium du Dauphiné, finishing runner-up to Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel Euskadi) on the stage to Superdévoluy in the process.


That performance by Fuglsang has intensified the team’s trust in the Dane’s prospects for the Tour de France.


"We will stay here in the region for the next few days to do a time trial reconnaissance for the Tour de France stage, and then fly to Tenerife to resume high-altitude training before July," Sports Director Sedoun said following the Dauphiné. "Jakob is about 80-85 per cent ready now, but what is most important is that we are following the plan we set out at the beginning of the season and working step by step. He can add some more fitness in Tenerife, for certain, but when we look at the final GC here at the Dauphine we are very pleased to see the company we keep."


Three riders also pre-selected, Janez Brajkovic, Enrico Gasparotto and Andrey Kashechkin are presently riding in the Tour of Switzerland. Last year Brajkovic finished ninth overall in the Tour de France and even though he indicated earlier in the year that he might forego the Grand Boucle this year in favour of targeting the Giro and Vuelta a España double it's probable that he'll be at the start line in Corsica on June 29 since he missed out on the Giro last month.


Also included on the Astana long list, is last year’s runner-up in the KOM classification to Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) in a fierce battle, Fredrik Kessiakoff, who was in action at the Giro d'Italia last month.


Astana preliminary list for the Tour de France:

Jakob Fuglsang, Assan Bazayev, Janez Brajkovic, Enrico Gasparotto, Francesco Gavazzi, Andrei Grivko, Jacopo Guarnieri, Andrey Kashechkin, Fredrik Kessiakoff, Alexey Lutsenko, Dmitriy Muravyev, Kevin Seeldraeyers, Egor Silin.



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