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Astana chase Tour de France stages with Fuglsang, Lutsenko and Fraile

ONDARROA SPAIN APRIL 09 Jakob Fuglsang of Denmark scar Rodriguez Garaikoetxea of Spain and Team Astana Premier Tech during the 60th ItzuliaVuelta Ciclista Pais Vasco 2021 Stage 5 a 1602km stage from Hondarribia to Ondarroa itzulia ehitzulia on April 09 2021 in Ondarroa Spain Photo by David RamosGetty Images
(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

The Astana-Premier Tech team will target stage victories across different terrain at the Tour de France, with Jakob Fuglsang, Alexey Lutsenko, Ion Izagirre and new Spanish national champion Omar Fraile all forgoing the overall classification for shots at daily success. 

Also part of the final eight-rider roster are Canada’s Hugo Houle, Dmitriy Gruzdev and Tour de France debutants Stefan de Bod and Alex Aranburu.

“Our main focus at this year’s Tour de France is stage wins,” Team Performance Manager Dmitriy Fofonov said.  

“We have a versatile roster and will make the most of the freedom that comes with stage hunting. Winning a stage at any Grand Tour, let alone the Tour de France, isn’t easy but I am confident that we will enjoy success, as we did last year, and show the Astana – Premier Tech jersey at the front of the race.”

Fuglsang finished seventh in the 2014 Tour de France and sixth in last year’s Giro d’Italia but has opted for a more aggressive strategy this year as he also eyes the Tokyo Olympics road race.    

“I feel really good but I will use the Tour de France more for fine-tuning, to be 100 per cent ready for the Olympics so I am not focusing on the overall,” the Dane explained. 

“But I will take it day by day because every day is important, especially in a Grand Tour, where the easiest days can turn out to be the most damaging days in terms of losing or winning the race. Every day is unpredictable. 

“Some days I will go deep trying to win a stage and other days, like the sprint stages, I will take it easy not fighting at the front all day long to save energy and build up for Tokyo.”

Lutsenko was second overall in the Critérium du Dauphiné and won stage 6 to Mont Aigoual in last year’s Tour de France. 

“I only have good memories from last year´s edition. Winning a stage at the Tour de France had always been a dream which I wanted to achieve. Returning to France having a stage win sticker on my race number makes me really proud,” the Kazakhstani rider said. 

“It would be great to repeat it this year. I feel good and, especially after the stage win at the Critérium du Dauphiné, I am confident that I am able to compete for another stage win. I want to reach the peak of my shape towards the Olympic Games after the Tour de France.”

Houle will again fly the flag for Canada in the Astana-Premier Tech team. He hopes to win a stage to remember his brother Pierrick, who died in 2012 at the age of just 19.

“It is not easy to get selected for the biggest tour of the year, so for me it is really great to be there again,” Houle said. 

“This year, I will have more freedom to go on the attack as we are not targeting the General Classification. My goal would be to win a stage in this year's Tour de France, in honor of my brother. 

“My form is going in the right direction towards the Tour and I am looking forward to lining up in Brest, trying to be part in some of the breakaways and hopefully, finishing it off with a stage win.”

Fofonov will lead the Astana-Premier Tech staff, with Steve Bauer and Stefano Zanini also directeur sportif.

Astana-Premier Tech for the Tour de France: 

Jakob Fuglsang, Alexey Lutsenko, Ion Izagirre, Omar Fraile, Hugo Houle, Dmitriy Gruzdev, Stefan de Bod and Alex Aranburu.