The Astana team moves past Alberto Contador era
Astana is turning the page on three-time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador, and his ensuing doping scandal.
The Kazakh-backed team confirmed its 10 new signings for 2011 and announced the new lineup will meet for the first time later this month in a week-long training camp in Italy, set for November 29 to December 4.
Contador likely won’t be missed by the Astana crew, even more so now that the Spaniard is fending off possibly career-crippling doping allegations.
Contador won the Tour with Astana, but promptly took an offer from Bjarne Riis to join Saxo Bank in a lucrative, two-year deal despite hinting that he would be staying with Astana next season.
Joining Contador out the door are three Spanish riders, Benjamin Noval, Jesus Hernandez and Dani Navarro. Other departures include the retiring Oscar Pereiro, David de la Fuente (to Geox) and Scott Davis.
Team brass are hoping to fill the Contador gap with the promising Czech rider Roman Kreuziger, who moves across from Liquigas. He’s had some impressive results in his young career and many believe he could be Tour podium material within the next few years.
Others set to join Astana next season include Robert Kiserlovski (Liqiuigas), Giro stage-winner Evgeni Petrov (Katusha), Tomas Vaitkus (RadioShack), Mirko Lorenzetto (Lampre), Fredrik Kessiakoff (Garmin), Francesco Mascriarelli (Acqua e Sapone), Remi Di Gregorio and Tanel Kangert (FDJ) and Simon Clark (ISD).
Despite the departure of Contador and his Spanish amigos, the rest of the team’s core remains intact.
Alexander Vinokourov will be back for what will likely be his final season while Allan Davis, Enrico Gasparotto, Andriy Grivko and Maxim Iglinskiy, all returning from 2010, will all likely see more responsibility as the team shifts away from focusing on Contador and the Tour.