UAE-Emirates confirmed cycling’s worst-kept secret Tuesday, announcing that Fabio Aru will join on a three-year deal.
The 27-year-old Italian leaves Astana, his professional home since 2012, to join the ever improving lineup at the Emirati team.
“With his performances, he will contribute to promoting an ideal team image,” said UAE-Emirates manager Carlo Saronni. “He will likely help us reach important competitive milestones.”
Aru is the latest arrival to the bolstered UAE-Emirates roster for 2018 that also includes new arrivals Dan Martin, Alexander Kristoff, and Rory Sutherland.
Aru turned pro with Astana in 2012 and later won the 2015 Vuelta a España with the team as well as stages in all three grand tours.
At Astana, Aru shared leadership with Vincenzo Nibali through 2016, after which the Sicilian switched to Bahrain-Merida for 2017. At UAE-Emirates, he will split the calendar with Martin.
“I thank [UAE-Emirates] for the faith they’ve placed in me, and I hope to live up to their expectations,” Aru said.
Aru is expected to tackle the Giro in 2018, opening the door for Martin to return to the Tour.
Aru’s departure from Astana, coupled with the tragic death of Michele Scarponi this year, leaves the Kazakh team short of GC leadership. The squad doesn’t look to be adding a big name for 2018, meaning it will lean on Jakob Fuglsang and emerging star Miguel Ángel López. New arrivals Jan Hirt (12th in the 2017 Giro) and Spanish climber Omar Fraile will see more opportunities.
Aru’s move is the latest in what’s been a surprisingly busy rider market going into 2018.