The Astana Pro Team have presented their 2019 roster during their training camp in Altea, Spain, where team manager Alexandr Vinokourov said the team's goal for the season was to improve on what was already considered to have been a very successful 2018 campaign.
While the team has had to say goodbye to riders including strong one-day specialist Oscar Gatto and Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Amstel Gold winner Michael Valgren, who's headed for Dimension Data for 2019, the team has brought in a number of new riders, including the talented Izagirre brothers, Ion and Gorka, Davide Ballerini – who won this year's Memorial Marco Pantani – and Eritrean road race champion Merhawi Kudus, who joins from Dimension Data.
Including Valgren's wins at Nieuwsblad and Amstel, Astana took 33 race wins in 2018, with Alexey Lutsenko taking the Tour of Oman title, three stage wins at the Tour of the Alps through Pello Bilbao, Luis Leon Sanchez and Miguel Angel Lopez – who also finished third overall at both the Giro d'Italia in May and the Vuelta a España in September – and two stage wins at the Tour de France, thanks to Omar Fraile and Magnus Cort.
"I think that we've managed to gather a well-balanced team [for 2019], which combines experience and youth, with specialists in various cycling disciplines," Vinokourov said at the presentation. "We have seriously strengthened some positions, which next year will allow us to fight for victories in the Grand Tours and prestigious stage races, as well as at the Classics.
"Last year was very successful for our team," he continued. "Our riders won 33 races and took 62 podium places. Miguel Angel Lopez stepped up on the podium of two Grand Tours – at the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a España. The goal for the new season is to be at least as successful as last year, and to try to surpass those results. I think that's realistic. Among our main objectives are the Grand Tours and the WorldTour stage races."