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Klöden, Horner and others reach deals with Astana

The Astana team has announced that it has reached contract agreements for the 2009 season with nine of its current riders, including American Chris Horner and German Andreas Klöden. The team’s general manager Johan Bruyneel said that in addition to Horner and Klöden, Astana has re-signed Assan Bazayev, Maxim Iglinskiy, Steve Morabito, Dmitriy Muravyev, Daniel Navarro, Gregory Rast and Michael Schär. The nine will be part of a team that already includes 2008 Giro d’Italia Champion Alberto Contador and two-time Tour of California winner Levi Leipheimer.

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Horner will be back at Astana in '09.

Horner will be back at Astana in ’09.

Photo: Kurt Jambretz, Action Images

The Astana team has announced that it has reached contract agreements for the 2009 season with nine of its current riders, including American Chris Horner and German Andreas Klöden.

The team’s general manager Johan Bruyneel said that in addition to Horner and Klöden, Astana has re-signed Assan Bazayev, Maxim Iglinskiy, Steve Morabito, Dmitriy Muravyev, Daniel Navarro, Gregory Rast and Michael Schär. The nine will be part of a team that already includes 2008 Giro d’Italia Champion Alberto Contador and two-time Tour of California winner Levi Leipheimer.

Despite its exclusion from the 2008 Tour de France, the team has had a successful year, recording 28 wins, including seven overall classifications in stage races and currently is the leader in the ProTour team classification.

Bruyneel said is pleased that he could keep his successful squad together.

“Over the last couple months, I’ve received many phone calls from riders on other teams who wanted to race next year for Team Astana,” Bruyneel said in a team press release. “Though flattering, it was my desire to first re-sign the key members who have contributed to the success of this new team. I’m confident that the group we have assembled thus far will not only continue to win races, but also represent Astana, Kazakhstan, and our entire sponsor family with pride and honor.”

Following two years of doping-related controversy, the team was reorganized, including the hiring of Bruyneel the former U.S. Postal/Discovery team manager. Astana also recruited new riders and signed an agreement with anti-doping crusader Rasmus Damsgaard to conduct internal testing and monitoring of the team.

Most recently, Astana fired Russian rider Vladimir Gusev for reportedly showing “abnormal values” during the team’s internal doping checks.

Klöden, who has twice finished second at the Tour de France, said he believes in the new structure that Bruyneel implemented in 2008.

“I’m very happy to have the opportunity to continue my career with Team Astana and Johan,” Klöden said. “When I see the number of riders who have re-signed for next year, it proves that we remain committed to this program, regardless of which races we are invited to participate in. We still have goals to achieve in 2008, but I’m already looking forward to next year.”

The 2009 roster currently features 18 riders and Bruyneel said he expects to add another seven.

“I’m excited about what we’ve accomplished so far and believe that Team Astana has an even brighter future ahead,” Bruyneel said. “I owe a great deal of gratitude to the Kazakh officials who support this program and have always believed in the team; it’s been a great partnership.”

2009 Team Astana Riders (as of July 31)
?Assan Bazayev
?Jani Brajkovic
?Alberto Contador
?Chris Horner
?Maxim Iglinskiy
?Roman Kireyev
?Andreas Klöden
?Berik Kupeshov
?Levi Leipheimer
?Steve Morabito
?Dmitriy Muravyev
?Daniel Navarro
?Benjamín Noval
?Sérgio Paulinho
?Gregory Rast
?Michael Schär
?Tomas Vaitkus
?Andrey Zeits

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