Politicians, traditional dancers, boxers join Nibali and Vinokourov
The Saryarka Velodrome in the Kazakhstan capital was host to the 2013 Astana Team presentation with new team manager Alexandre Vinokourov revealing some lofty goals of the back of the recruitment of Vincenzo Nibali.
"Goal number one this year is to win the Giro d'Italia," said Vinokourov. "With Vincenzo Nibali leading a squad of strong, motivated riders in May, we know we have the pieces in place and a plan in motion to get us there."
The 2013 Astana roster includes 29 riders from 10 countries was labelled by Kazakhstan's Deputy Prime Minister Kairat Kelimbetov, who is president of the national cycling federation, as "Kazakhstan's Dream Team".
"Not only is it an international dream team, but it's also a chance for Kazakhstan's own riders to be a part of a great squad and prepare for other events over a longer time horizon, including the Olympic Games, where Vinokourov became our first gold medalist this year in London, and at the World Championships, where Alexey Lutsenko won the rainbow jersey this year in the Under 23 race in Limburg," Kelimbetov said.
The celebrations for Alexandre Vinkourov continued, following his Olympic gold medal from the road race in London with fellow gold medallist, welter weight Serik Sapiyev, presenting the now-retired rider with a special pair of boxing gloves.
"I know how hard cyclists train, how much their lives are dedicated to the sport, how much they fight to race at the front. Watching Vino in the last seven kilometers in London was more exciting and more inspiring for Kazakhstan than anyone ever hoped for, and on behalf of our country we want to support him and the entire team as he takes over a new challenge in the role of General Manager. When Vino fights, he fights to win, and when Astana lines up at a race next year, we know that spirit will carry on," Sapiyev said.