Astana has announced a strong line up for this year’s Giro d’Italia with a contingent of climbers set to protect Vincenzo Nibali in his bid to win the race which begins in Naples on Saturday.
Nibali, who finished second in the 2011 edition of the race has built his season around victory in the Giro d’Italia and has already secured victories in Tirreno-Adriatico and the Giro del Trentino this spring.
"We have one goal at the Giro - victory for Vincenzo in his home race. He has won the Vuelta, come third at the Tour, and now he is ready to fight for the pink jersey. That has been our goal since the beginning of the season, and it's in his head and the team is right behind him for victory," said Astana General Manager Alexandr Vinokurov in the press release naming the Astana team for the race.
Like their expected rivals, Team Sky, Astana has opted not to bring a sprinter to the race, leaving Andrea Guardini out of their line-up.
"The whole team will ride for Vincenzo for General Classification, so a sprinter in our ranks would be excess. We need riders for the mountains, for GC, and we are putting our faith in Vincenzo and the guys for the whole race, from Napoli to Brescia. If the team is going well, and we can get into a breakaway, or push Fabio Aru for the Best Young Rider Jersey, then we will, but those goals are secondary to pink," Vinokurov said.
Astana for the Giro d’Italila: Vincenzo Nibali (ITA), Andrey Zeits (KAZ), Paolo Tiralongo (ITA) , Valerio Agnoli (ITA), Dmitri Gruzdev (ITA), Fredrik Kessiakoff (SWE), Fabio Aru (ITA). Tanel Kangert (EST) and Alessandro Vanotti (ITA).