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Tour de France

Astana’s Tour squad selection gets harder after training crash

Three riders, including GC hopeful Jakob Fuglsang, crashed at high speed on Sunday

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MILAN (VN) — Astana must put away its Giro d’Italia celebrations and buckle down for the Tour de France over the next month. However, team selection and even starting the race has become harder for some after a training crash over the weekend.

Three riders — Jakob Fuglsang, Assan Bazayev, and Andriy Grivko — hit the deck while training at altitude in Tenerife, Spain, Sunday. Bazayev and Grivko fell first, and Fuglsang, the team’s GC leader, was unable to avoid them.

The Dane has the green light to start the Tour. Bazayev and Grivko, however, are in a race just to make it to the Grand Départ in Corsica June 29.

“You are already behind and facing an uphill battle if you start the Tour de France in bad shape,” Astana manager Giuseppe Martinelli told VeloNews this morning via telephone. “If they start, the first week will truly be a [mess] for them.”

Martinelli celebrated the team’s Giro win with Vincenzo Nibali, who made his rounds in Italy and to the team’s home in Kazakhstan. He did not expect to receive a call from the sports director, Dmitriy Sedoun, saying that three of his Tour candidates suffered a high-speed training crash.

“We were only 30 minutes into the training ride when it happened,” Fuglsang said Monday in a press release. “We were going about 50k per hour and I couldn’t avoid the crash, but I was luckier than the other two. I am sore all over, but I feel OK to train and am still very motivated to continue.”

Bazayev’s face absorbed most of the crash. He has scrapes on his chin and nose, and road rash down the side of his body. Grivko has a broken scaphoid bone in his wrist, but it is in place. With it in a cast, the Ukrainian is able to train and race the national championships.

“They are important helpers to Fuglsang,” added Martinelli. “‘Baza’ is important because he’s Kazakh, and given we are a national team it’s important to have him at the start of the Tour. However, he has to be truly well.

“Grivko has experience. He works well on the flats and is able to protect Jakob. He has a micro-fracture, but we want to see how he goes in races. OK, in training he’s fine, a little sore, and he can ride but in a race it’s different.”

Astana will wait until after the various national championships on Sunday to select its nine-man team.

“We want to go to the Tour and do well. We achieved our goal at the Giro, now in the Tour we want to have a team around Jakob and try to win a stage. Why not? We have riders who have the ability to win,” Martinelli continued.

“The podium of the tour is [almost written], but there are a lot of riders who can finish in the first 10 or 20. Our goal is to take Jakob to the top 10, and maybe he can even place fourth or, how knows, in third place. Let’s hope.”

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