Manuele Boaro has chosen to leave Bahrain-Merida and join Astana next season, signing a two-year contract with the Kazakhstani WorldTour team.
The 31-year-old Italian won a stage of the Tour of Croatia earlier this year, one of only three wins in a career that has been focused on helping others.
He started his career with Saxo Bank in 2003 and moved to Bahrain-Merida in 2017 after the Tinkoff team folded. He helped Vincenzo Nibali finish on the podium at the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España last year, and this year rode the Giro with Domenico Pozzovivo.
"I begin a new and exciting chapter of my career," said Boaro. "During the next two years I will be wearing the jersey of Astana Pro Team. New colours, new teammates, new races, new challenges… And I still have a lot of passion and energy for this. I want to become a man of reference for the whole team to repay the trust that Alexandr Vinokourov is giving to me."
Boaro is Astana's second signing of the transfer window after the arrival of neo-pro Yuriy Natarov. They have extended with Alexey Lutsenko and Laurens De Vreese but lost Michael Valgren to Dimension Data.
Vinokourov explained that Boaro's engine will bolster the team's collective strength for targeting the overall classifications at stage races.
"First of all, Manuele Boaro is known as a perfect helper for the team’s leader and I am sure he will strengthen our GC group," he said. "Also, Manuele is a very strong TT rider, who can perform well both in individual and team races. There is not a secret that we are looking for improving our team time trial, so this rider will help us. Boaro is a very strong rider and I am happy to see him in Astana Pro Team in the next season."
López on track for the Vuelta a España
The Colombian triumphed atop Picón Blanco, a brute of a climb which is 8.5km long at an average gradient of 9.1 per cent, with numerous sections in the double digits. He escaped from his rivals with just over three kilometres to go and, despite compatriot Ivan Sosa bridging across to him in the final kilometre, he was first to the line.
"First of all I want to thank my teammates for fantastic job today, the guys did a great stage, we controlled the race from the start and until the finish. I want to dedicate this victory to my team," said López. "It was a hard day, while on the last climb there was a very strong headwind. In a moment when the wind calmed down a bit, I decided to attack. I got an advantage, but it was not easy at all to fight against the headwind alone during all the way to the top. Later Sosa caught me, but in the end, I just did my best to hold on his wheel and to win the sprint."
López finished third at the Giro d'Italia in May and is now targeting the Vuelta a España, which gets underway later this month. He returned to racing last weekend at the Clásica San Sebastián but did not finish, and Burgos is the big test of his condition ahead of the Vuelta. He leads the general classification, with another mountain finish on Saturday set to decide the title.
"That’s true, I am not in my top form yet," said López, "but it looks like everything is going to plan for the Vuelta a España."
Cofidis sign French neo-pro
Cofidis have signed 22-year-old Frenchman Damien Touzé, who will turn pro in 2019 after previously riding for the Continental-level St Michel-Auber93 team.
Touzé won the Kreiz Breizh Elites stage race in France earlier this year and feels ready to make the step up to the pro ranks. In an interview with DirectVélo, he explained that he would have stayed at Auber93 if they'd made the step up to Pro Conti level but, as it was, opted to join Cédric Vasseur's Cofidis team for a higher quality race programme to enable him to develop.
"I think Cédric likes my 'all-rounder' profile. I could help Christophe Laporte in the sprints as well as going in breakaways, or doing a job for the group. I'm capable of 'making the race' on pretty much all terrain," Touzé told Direct Vélo.
"I'd like to discover the Classics. But the selection will be made by the team and I'd first have to show I was up to it. The legs will decide. If I give 100 per cent and show I'm capable of being there, that would be great. I'm really up for it."
Cyclingnews Transfer Guide now live
Since the UCI transfer window officially opened on August 1, the announcements have been coming in thick and fast. We've been covering all the ins and outs on Cyclingnews, but to help you keep track of it all, we've once again launched our Transfer Guide.
Featuring every professional road team, from the WorldTour to the Pro Conti ranks, you can see in one handy place all the signings, departures, and extensions. We update it after every new deal so keep checking back for the latest on the make-up of the pro peloton in 2019.
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