Astana poach Alexander Vlasov from Gazprom-RusVelo

Astana have moved early to secure the services of young Russian talent Alexander Vlasov, buying out the final year of his contract with Gazprom-RusVelo to take him to the WorldTour from 2020.

Vlasov turned pro with Gazprom in 2018 and enjoyed a season that suggested he had a bright future ahead of him. Though he did ride in professional and WorldTour races, his success came in the U23 events as he won the Giro d’Italia and finished fourth at the Tour de l’Avenir.

This year he has claimed top ten overall finishes at the Ruta del Sol, Tour of the Alps, and Settimana Coppi e Bartali, top fives at the Tour of Austria – where he won a stage – and Giro di Sicilia, and podiums at the Tour of Slovenia and Vuelta a Asturias. He also became Russian national road race champion in June.

Vlasov still had a year to run on his contract with Gazprom but Astana announced on Tuesday that the 23-year-old will be moving at the end of 2019 'by mutual agreement'.

"Vlasov is having a very impressive season, demonstrating a high stability and a character to fight until the end. As we could see from his results, the rider is specializing in the stage races, while we were looking for this kind of rider," said Astana’s general manager, Alexander Vinokourov.

"Vlasov is young and ambitious, he has a great potential, which is easily recognized. In Gazprom-RusVelo the rider has got a solid cycling school, has got a base that allows him already now to fight on the same level with many eminent rivals. It is quite logical that the next step for Alexander is the WorldTour, where the athlete could achieve even greater success.

"Knowing about his current contract, we came to the management of Gazprom-RusVelo with a proposal to allow the transfer to our team for the future of this talented athlete. And I am happy that we have found understanding in the person of the general manager Renat Khamidulin, who supported this step."

Vlasov himself insisted he’s ready to make the step to the highest level of the sport.

"I will never forget the victory at the youth Giro d’Italia and my first professional win at a stage of the Tour of Austria earlier this year. I am very grateful to everyone: all teammates, staff, management and sponsors of the team for their support. In Gazprom-RusVelo I grew up as a professional," Vlasov said.

"Now I feel that it is time to face the next challenge and to develop further as a WorldTour team rider I am very happy that I will make this step with such a famous team as Astana Pro Team."

Vlasov is Astana's fourth signing of the summer, after Davide Martinelli from Deceuninck-QuickStep, Vadim Pronskiy from the Vino-Astana Motors development team, and Harold Tejada from Team Medellin. They have signed Jakob Fuglsang for two more years but are losing Dario Cataldo and Davide Villella to Movistar, Davide Ballerini to Deceuninck-QuickStep, Andrey Zeits to Mitchelton-Scott, and Magnus Cort to EF Education First.

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