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Astana plan for racing return with two July training camps

DUBAI UNITED ARAB EMIRATES FEBRUARY 23 Hernando Bohorquez Sanchez of Colombia and Astana Pro Team Kudus Merhawi of Eritrea and Astana Pro Team Peloton during the 6th UAE Tour 2020 Stage 1 a 148km stage from Dubai The Pointe to Dubai Silicon Oasis UCIWT UAETour uaetour on February 23 2020 in Dubai United Arab Emirates Photo by Justin SetterfieldGetty Images
Hernando Bohorquez and Merhawi Kudus (Astana Pro Team) at the 2020 UAE Tour (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Astana Pro Team have announced their preparations for a return to racing when the season starts up again in August, with the squad splitting in two for a pair of training camps planned for July.

The team's six Spanish riders, as well the four Colombians, will convene in the Sierra Nevada mountain range in Spain, with the team confirming that a charter flight will be provided for the Colombian riders.

The Colombian government's ban on international travel until August 31 had cast doubt on whether riders from the country would make it to Europe for the season restart.

The rest of the team, who will not have to surmount such a strict COVID-19 travel ban, will take part in a training camp in the Dolomites in Italy.

"Fortunately, everything slowly returns to normal," said team general manager Alexander Vinokourov. "We understand that for some time we will all have to live with certain restrictions, but if the tendency continues like this, I am sure that the revised calendar that was planned by the UCI will be realised.

"All our riders are already training on the road in '100 per cent mode', the guys are preparing for the reopening of the season. If everything goes well, we will organise two training camps in July. One in Spain and the other one in Italy. We hope to have really good training in the middle and second part of July in order to have the best possible start in the first races."

The splitting of the team will see the Tour de France leader Miguel Ángel López and the Izagirre brothers training in Spain, while Jakob Fuglsang and Alexey Lutsenko, who enjoyed the best campaigns of their careers last year, will be among the riders gathering in Italy.

The plan was created in order to minimise rider movement and also in accordance with rider training plans, said team sports manager Dmitry Fofonov. The team will make their return to racing at the Vuelta a Burgos, which runs from July 28 to August 1. The Italian Classics (Strade Bianche, Milano-Torino and Milan-San Remo) and the Tour de Pologne will follow.

"At the moment, there is a calendar that looks very good," said Fofonov. "We're working closely with organisers and have already confirmed participation in most of the races in most of the races, so we are optimistic about the future.

"Only Artyom Zakharov and Dmitriy Gruzdev are still in Kazakhstan, actively training there, but they will fly to Europe as soon as it is possible. As for our Colombian guys, we have a confirmation that a charter flight will be organized for them in July."

The team also confirmed the Grand Tour plans of several star riders, with López still set to make his Tour de France debut. He'll be joined by Lutsenko, while Fuglsang will lead Astana at the Giro d'Italia. The latter duo will restart their seasons at Strade Bianche, where they finished second and seventh in 2019.

"After a long time of waiting at home and training on the rollers, finally, we have the possibility to train normal outside, doing our job 100 per cent," said López. "We all have the hope and desire that the races will start as planned. It will be important for us, for our team and for our sponsors.

"So, I'm working hard now, trying to come back in good shape and I'm really looking forward to coming back to Europe and to see my teammates at the training camp before the start of the season. I'm really motivated and excited about my debut at the Tour de France and I will try to prepare for it as well as possible. It will be a big step ahead in my career."