By Shane Stokes
Third last year, Andrej Kashechkin has said that he will travel to the 2007 Tour of Spain aiming for the top step of the podium.
"The Astana cycling team's objective is to win the Grand Tours. And for me, the goal is the Vuelta," he said at the recent training camp held in Mallorca.
"In 2007, I will work for Vinokourov in the Tour de France and then go for personal victory in the Tour of Spain. I know that I can achieve a top result in a race of three weeks. Riding well in the 2006 Vuelta meant that I am now more confident in myself, and I hope to have an even better season this year."
Team leader Vinokourov has already said that it is unlikely he will participate in the Vuelta, making it likely that the team will put their full weight behind the other big name Kazakh rider.
Kashechkin made a big jump in terms of his riding in 2006. He won a Tour of Spain mountain stage and finished just behind Vinokourov and Alejandro Valverde in Madrid. He also fared well in other events, with a stage win in Paris-Nice, victory in the national road race championships, third in the Tour of Germany, third in the Clasica San Sebastian and fifth overall in the ProTour marking him out as a big threat in both stage races and one day events.
His planned pre-Tour schedule sees him debut in the Tour of Murcia, then do the Settimana Ciclista Internazionale, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Tour de Romandie and Dauphiné Libéré.
A full interview with Andrej Kasheckin will feature soon on Cyclingnews.