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"We're going to have a very strong team for the Tour, and Vinokourov's aim is that the squad increase the physical and mental pressure on Sky," Martinelli said

Photo: Sirotti










06.11.2013 @ 09:13 Posted by Aleksandra Górska

When gradually routes the races and team line-ups for next season begin to take final shape, comes the long-awaited moment of disclosure of plans and expectations of cyclists and entire teams for 2014. During the entire season Kazakh Astana has appeared to be one of the strongest lineups - not only because of the fantastic performances of Vincenzo Nibali in Tirreno - Adriatico, the Giro and the Vuelta, but his reliable domestiques as well, also frequently involved in high places in the GC, while Movistar finally has won theTeams UCI World Tour ranking. Astana sports director Giuseppe Martinelli points out, however, that team Sky will be the one to beat in 2014.


"Sky will have an extra problem in 2014," he told about Astana’s high expectation of upcoming season.


High expectations are not without relation to the consequent desire to build a strong team, capable to successfully compete for top positions in all three Grand Tours throughout the season. After signing with Vincenzo Nibali for the season 2013, in which the Italian without a doubt fulfilled the hopes coming close to win the Giro - Vuelta double, Astana again prominently reinforces its roster. Kazakh team sets primarily for experienced riders in the likes of Michele Scarponi or Liuewe Westra, however, there is also a place in the squad for extremely talented climber Mikel Landa.


"Every year we want to improve and [team manager] Alexandre Vinokurov has already made some big changes, bringing in Vincenzo last year and Michele [Scarponi] this year. And there are good new young riders signed for 2014 like [Spanish talent Mikel] Landa and experienced rouleurs like [Lieuwe] Westra. So Alexandre has built the team up this far, and I think that next year, Sky will have another problem to deal with, and that's going to be Astana.


"We're going to have a very strong team for the Tour, and Vinokourov's aim is that the squad increase the physical and mental pressure on Sky."


It is no secret that for Vicenzo Nibali and Astana main objective for this season is to win the Tour de France. Related to this is the need to prepare the strongest possible roster, ready to compete with Sky and Movistar teams. Martinelli points out that the route of the Tour is in favor of his main GC rider, however, it is necessary to develop entirely different build-up in order to reach this goal.


"Just 50 kilometres of individual time trialling is fair enough, and even if Froome's got something of a margin there on Nibali, Vincenzo's worked very hard on the chronos, and I think next year he'll progress even more. It's in the mountains where we will make the biggest difference, though."


"Right now he's on holiday, but we will be making some changes to his program for sure in comparison to 2013, and that's when we'll make all the decisions," Martinelli said about Nibali’s specific race program.


Regarding plans for the other Grand Tours of 2014 season, Astana expects to give a leading role young Fabio Aru alongside experienced Scarponi in the Giro, and possibly highly versatile Estonian Tanel Kangert in the Vuelta. All these riders are said to be Nibali's main rainforcements during Tour the France, though.


"Michele's big goal is to be in top form for the Tour, where he'll be working for Vincenzo, but at the same time, we can't forget he's won the Giro d'Italia already [in 2011] and he's been in the top positions" - fourth in 2010, 2012 and 2013 - "three times. So he'll do the Giro alongside Aru, and I think Fabio will be very motivated to be alongside Michele."


"and we aim to have him riding side by side with Vincenzo and Michele in the Tour. But then after working for Vincenzo in July, he may well have his own chance in the Vuelta," Martinelli said on Kangert.



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