Astana has announced the team that they hope will bring them their third Grand Tour podium of the season at the Vuelta a España. Fabio Aru will be looking to capitalise on his third place at the Giro d’Italia, while Andrea Guardini gets his first shot at a Grand Tour with the team.
Aru was a surprise podium finisher at the Giro in May, after a very strong final week where he won stage 15 to Plan de Montecampione and finished season in the time trial four days later. Tanel Kangert provides the team with another option in the general classification. The Estonian has been one of Vincenzo Nibali’s key riders and was there to assist him at this year’s Tour de France.
Mikel Landa will shore up the team in the mountains and is looking to take his first Grand Tour stage win. "Landa is super motivated for a good result – after a great climb on stage three at the Vuelta a Burgos, despite a heavy crash at the beginning of the day, he showed what a promising young Spanish rider is capable of at home," said Astana directeur sportif Dmitriy Sedoun.
"Aru and Kangert are two proven GC riders – Fabio this year was third at the Giro with a Queen Stage victory in the mountains and Tanel has done outstanding work for Nibali over the past two seasons."
In the sprints, Guardini will be supported by Jacopo Guarnieri and Alexey Lutsenko. The Italian is yet to race a Grand Tour for the team and goes into the race hoping to secure a contract for next season. Since joining Astana at the beginning of 2013, Guardini has struggled to match the promise he hinted at in previous seasons. However, he looks to have turned things around somewhat with a recent run of victories at the Tour of Denmark and Eneco Tour.
It is a young and experimental team that Astana has put forward and Paolo Tiralongo and Andrey Zeits will provide some much-needed experience. At 37, Tiralongo is the oldest member of the team and is a veteran of 21 Grand Tours. His best finish was eighth at the 2009 Vuelta a España. Daniil Fominykh, 22, will make his Grand Tour debut.
Astana team for the Vuelta a España: Fabio Aru, Mikel Landa, Tanel Kangert, Paolo Tiralongo, Daniil Fominykh, Andrea Guardini, Jacopo Guarnieri, Andrey Zeits, Alexey Lutsenko.