Astana have confirmed the signing of brothers Ion Izagirre and Gorka Izagirre for the 2019 season. The pair join Manuele Boaro, Rodrigo Contreras and Davide Ballerini as new signings for the Kazakh team.
The Izagirre brothers have been racing together for the Bahrain-Merida team over the past season, with Gorka joining his younger brother Ion, who had joined the team a year earlier.
It was already widely known that the brothers would be leaving the team at the end of the season, and Cyclingnews revealed earlier this month that they were considering offers from Astana and UAE Team Emirates.
"We are happy to come to Astana Pro Team, a team which stays already many years in the WorldTour. Me and Gorka, we know very well a part of the team, the riders and some staff and this is important for us because it will help us to accommodate quickly inside the team," Ion Izagirre said in a team press release.
"I know Astana as a very strong team, which works hard and year by year put new high goals. With Gorka, we hope to bring into the team the new forces and to make Astana even stronger with our presence. Of course, our main goal is victories, we are ready to help the team on the way to its big goals as well as to work for our personal successes in stage races."
The Izagirres are likely to be utilised to help Astana’s Grand Tour contenders Miguel Angel Lopez and Jakob Fuglsang, but they are solid stage racers in their own right.
Gorka, the current Spanish national champion, finished third overall at this year’s Paris-Nice and the Tour of Oman and is a past stage winner at the Giro d’Italia. Ion is also a past national champion and has won stages of the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France. He won the 2015 Tour de Pologne and has also finished on the podium of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, Tour de Romandie and Tour de Suisse.
Astana general manager Alexandre Vinokourov believes that there is still more to come from the Izagirre brothers.
"Ion and Gorka are very strong riders and their results are well-known. This year Gorka became the Spanish road race champion, while Ion showed some high performances in stage races and at the Tour de France," he said.
"In Astana, we are ready to help the brothers to do another step ahead in their career and to lead them to new, higher results. I believe that their potential has not yet been fully disclosed and we are ready to do everything necessary for them to be fully realised in Astana Pro Team."