The Astana Pro Team may have brought in a Canadian title sponsor in Premier Tech for 2021, but the squad will stay true its roots, adding two new riders from Kazakhstan and renewing with six more.
The team handed two-year contracts to 20-year-olds Yevgeniy Fedorov and Gleb Brussenskiy, both of whom were part of the Vino-Astana Motors development team. Yevgeniy Gidich, Dmitriy Gruzdev, Yuriy Natarov, Nikita Stalnov and Artyom Zakharov all renewed their contracts for one year, while Vadim Pronskiy inked a new two-year deal.
Fedorov won the opening stage of this year's Tour de Langkawi, and wore the leader's jersey for three days before finishing second overall, and then also won the opening stage of the Tour du Rwanda, and led for two stages. Although opportunities for Continental teams were limited by the COVID-19 pandemic, Fedorov got in one more victory in the Cycling Tour of Szekerland in the second half of the season.
"Becoming a part of the team is like a dream come true. I am very happy that the team offered me a contract, which I immediately accepted," Fedorov said. "To now step up into the WorldTour and do this in the colours of Astana-Premier Tech, it couldn't be any better.
"The last season, besides the strange situation with the pandemic, went quite well for me. I collected some victories and I have the feeling I grew as a rider. I want to improve and to become a stronger rider over the next years. I am pretty sure that it will be a tough start, riding in the WorldTour. I'll have to get used to that level, but I'm ready for it and hope I can prove myself at this professional level."
Brussenskiy also had a solid season, with several stage podium finishes.
"It was quite a surprise to receive an offer from the team, a positive one, as it was always my dream to ride for this team," he said.
"Now I am preparing myself to step up to this professional level and being part of Astana-Premier Tech. Since my childhood, I've wanted to become a professional cyclist and to show the colours or my country at the well-known races. I am beyond happy to get this chance now, and I will work on it to make it a successful move."
General manager Alexandre Vinokurov sees potential in both riders to target the Classics.
"We'd followed Yevgeniy Fedorov for a long time already after he won the road race at the Olympic Youth festival," Vinokourov said. "He is a strong rider with huge potential to become a powerful Classics rider. Gleb Brussenskiy is also a promising athlete; the Classics will suit him. He's fast, and so we want to work with him on his sprint skills. Both are young riders and we want to give them a chance, especially at the northern Classics."
Managing director Yana Seel added: "We'll always keep searching for and developing talented cyclists in Kazakhstan, and we're happy to once more add two of these talents to our roster. But also the Kazakh riders that extended their contracts proved their value for the team, so we're happy that they can stay with us and represent Kazakhstan in the UCI WorldTour."
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