The Astana team has confirmed 10 riders will leave the Kazakhstan-funded WorldTour team, with nine new riders joining for 2019, including Ion and Gorka Izagirre and Manuele Boaro (from Bahrain-Merida), Merhawi Kudus (Dimension Data), Davide Ballerini (Androni Giocattoli) and Colombia's Hernando Bohorquez (Manzana-Postobon).
Astana lost its status as a Grand Tour contender after Vincenzo Nibali and Fabio Aru moved on in 2017 and 2018 but Miguel Angel Lopez showed his promise with his third place at both the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana. In 2019 he will again alternate stage race leadership with Jakob Fuglsang and the Izagirre brothers.
Astana is expected to have a 29-rider roster, with Luis Leon Sanchez, Dario Cataldo, Omar Fraile, sprinter Magnus Cort, Davide Villela and Alexey Lutsenko forming the eclectic backbone of the team.
Michael Valgren led Astana's Classics squad in 2017 and 2018, winning Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and the Amstel Gold Race this season. However, he opted to join Dimension Data for 2019, with Oscar Gatto moving to Bora-Hansgrohe to help close friend Peter Sagan, while Tanel Kangert, Moreno Moser, Sergei Chernetskii, Andriy Grivko, Truls Korsaeth, Riccardo Minali and Ruslan Tleubayev all move on or were let go.
Danish climber Hansen has joined Cofidis, Kangert will be a stage race domestique for EF Education First, Moser will try to restart his career at Nippo-Vini Fantini, and Arctic Race of Norway winner Chernetskii has joined the Spanish Professional Continental team Caja Rural.
Tleubayev and Korsaeth have announced their retirements, while Grivko and Minali have still to confirm their futures. The 35-year-old Ukrainian attended the CPA rider association meeting during the world championships in Innsbruck and may go on to create an Eastern European rider association.
Grivko spent the last nine years of his career at Astana.
"We are grateful to each of the riders who were part of Astana Team, no matter if it was just for a year, two, five or ten. On behalf of Astana Pro Team I want to wish all the guys who are leaving our project a good luck and success in the new season!" team manager Alexandr Vinokourov said in a statement from the team, confirming its roster changes for 2019.
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