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Astana names Aru its top rider after Nibali departs

The 26-year-old Italian and 2015 Vuelta champion will captain the squad next year.

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ASTANA, Kazakhstan (AFP) — Italian Fabio Aru is the new team leader of the Astana team after the departure of his compatriot Vincenzo Nibali, the Kazakh outfit confirmed Sunday.

The 26-year-old Sardinian climber is one of a clutch of riders expected to dominate the sport in the coming years. Aru won the 2015 Vuelta a Espana.

Astana, which has been troubled by doping scandals in the past, unveiled 10 new riders at a Sunday presentation in Kazakhstan’s capital from which the team takes its name.

Speaking at the presentation, general manager Alexander Vinokourov said two of the team’s established riders — Aru and Dane Jakob Fuglsang — would captain Astana at the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France next year. Although the Giro begins on Aru’s native Sardinia, he may concentrate on the French Tour.

Either Aru or injured Colombian rider Miguel Angel Lopez will captain the team’s 2017 Vuelta a Espana lineup, former Astana rider Vinokourov added.
 Nibali won the Tour in 2014 and the Giro this year wearing the team’s blue and yellow colors. Next year he will ride for the new Bahrain – Merida squad.

The UCI threatened to revoke Astana’s WorldTour racing license in 2015 over several doping positives, but the governing body eventually said it was satisfied with the team’s efforts to eradicate doping.