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VN ticker: Vinokourov hails ‘strong and ambitious’ Astana roster, Pidcock sore but satisfied after ‘cross debut

Here's the news making headlines for Sunday, December 5.

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Alexander Vinokourov hails ‘strong and ambitious’ Astana Qazaqstan squad for 2022

Astana Qazaqstan will start 2022 with a new name and a new-look roster that brings both familiar faces and new talents to the team.

Speaking at a team presentation in Kazakh capital city Nur-Sultan this week, team manager Alexander Vinokourov said that the long-running Astana squad will be holding onto its roots in a season of renewal.

“Despite a difficult transfer period, we managed to gather a strong and ambitious team, with a number of riders who are able to lead the whole team in the fight for big achievements in the next season,” Vinokourov said.

“We lost some strong leaders, but at the same time, we gained other high-class riders. The team has a new face, but we remain the same Astana team, which is well known all over the world.”

Vino and Co. have been busy on the transfer market this fall.

Former GC leaders Miguel Ángel López and Vincenzo Nibali return, and fresh talents like Gianni Moscon and American climber Joe Dombrowski come on board. On the other side of the revolving door, a number of long-serving veterans move elsewhere, including Jakob Fuglsang, Luis León Sánchez, and the Izagirre brothers.

“The return of such riders as Vincenzo Nibali, Miguel Ángel López and Andrey Zeits will bring to the team some additional sport stability and confidence,” Vinokourov said. “The arrival of Gianni Moscon, Joe Dombrowski, David De La Cruz, Valerio Conti and other guys will help to expand our interests and set new goals.”

The team has now decamped to Altea, Spain, for a pre-season training week.

Tom Pidcock sore but satisfied after ‘cross debut

Tom Pidcock slip-slided his way to seventh in his CX season debut at Superprestige Boom on Saturday.

Despite an error-riddled race that saw the Brit in the mud more than once, Pidcock was pleasantly surprised with his ride after finishing 2:13 down on race-winner Wout van Aert.

“Seventh – I was far away from winning, but I was good. Considering what I’ve done, I’m pleased. It was good,” he said in a short video released by Ineos Grenadiers. “I had too many crashes. “I’m a bit bruised now … I’m still struggling to see as well [after getting mud in his eyes – ed].”

Pidcock started the race uncertain of his form and wary of a nagging knee injury. Nonetheless, he punched his way into the lead group on the first lap and yo-yo’d on and off the pace from there onward.

The 22-year-old rued the simple mistakes that made his life harder in the deep, boggy Belgian mud.

“It was my first race, and not a perfect one to start with, in these conditions,” he said. “There are always things you forget, like putting anti-fog on the lenses of my glasses. I had to take my glasses off and then I couldn’t see. All this little stuff. You feel like a numpty every time you do your first race of the year, but it’s alright.”

Pidcock will enjoy some Mallorcan sun with his Ineos Grenadiers teammates in the coming week before racing the Val di Sole World Cup next Sunday.