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Astana-Premier Tech have announced their team for the 2021 Giro d’Italia, which kicks off on Saturday, May 8. Aleksandr Vlasov will lead the Kazakhstani squad on his return to the race after abandoning on stage 2 last year, with the team focussed on his GC bid as well as stage hunting.

Vlasov will be primarily supported by Spanish veterans Gorka Izagirre and Luis León Sánchez as well as young Colombian climber, Harold Tejada. Vlasov was joined by the latter duo at last year’s Vuelta a España, where he finished 11th overall at the end of his first complete Grand Tour, taking second place on the Angliru climb along the way.

The 25-year-old has previous form in Italy, winning the Giro dell’Emilia last August and the U23 Giro (ahead of João Almeida) in 2018. He has enjoyed a strong start to 2021, taking second place and the youth classification at Paris-Nice and finishing third at the Tour of the Alps last month.

“After I had to quit the Giro in 2020 really early after just two stages, I feel like I still have unfinished business in Italy, and I am looking forward to making a complete debut at this amazing race which I really love,” Vlasov said in an Astana-Premier Tech press release.

“It is my dream to ride the Giro d’Italia from the start to the finish and to show my best in every stage. I am feeling pretty well and optimistic at the start of the race and I am aiming to do my maximum in the General Classification. But, at the same time I understand that there are a lot of strong and experienced riders in the start list of the race and the fight will be a tough one.

“So, I am planning to move through the race day by day, with support from the team, and trying to avoid unnecessary risks on the flat stages and to do my best in the mountains. And then, we will see where I can find myself in Milan.”

As well as fighting for Vlasov to take pink in Milan, Astana will also be targeting stage victories over the three weeks. Gorka Izagirre will be looking to add to his 2017 stage win in Peschici, while Sánchez has four Tour de France stage wins to his name and narrowly missed out on taking the opening stage of the Volta a Catalunya earlier this season.

24-year-old Tejada will be a key climbing domestique for Vlasov, while former U23 world champion Samuele Batistella, Fabio Felline, and Matteo Sobrero will make up the team’s Italian contingent. Vadim Pronskiy is the sole Kazakhstani rider on the roster.

“Aleksandr Vlasov is our leader in this race, and he is going to fight for a high place in the General Classification of the Giro d’Italia,” said lead directeur sportif Giuseppe Martinelli. “The team is ready to provide him with the best possible support. We saw his form coming up on a very good level at the Tour of the Alps, so I am pretty sure he can be one of the favourites of this Giro. At the very least, he will try to do his best.

“But, at the same time we understand that we have very strong and experienced riders who can fight for a stage win. To start with, I am talking about Luis León Sánchez and Gorka Izagirre. These are the riders who know how to win stages at the Grand Tours, they both are in good form and really motivated to deliver a good result for the team.

“Of course, the General Classification is our main objective at this race, but we also know that we have riders who can win in almost all kinds of terrain; Fabio Felline and Samuele Battistella could win a sprint from a reduced peloton, and Matteo Sobrero already showed his potential in time trial races, so we are expecting a strong start from him in Torino.

“Well, we are heading to another very hard edition of the Giro d’Italia and many really strong teams and their leaders are coming here, but I am sure that Astana-Premier Tech is ready for this challenge and we are going to do our best to achieve a good result at this race.”

Astana-Premier Tech for the 2021 Giro d’Italia

SOURCE: CyclingNews   (go to source)
AUTHOR: Cycling News
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