The Astana-Premier Tech team have announced that Aleksandr Vlasov will target the general classification at the 2021 Giro d’Italia, while Jakob Fuglsang will give up hopes of overall success at the Tour de France, instead targeting stage victories and other Classics after his Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Il Lombardia victories.
Fuglsang will also take aim at the Tokyo Olympic Games, as will teammate Alexey Lutsenko, while Ion Izagirre will continue to target shorter stage races and especially the Itzulia Basque Country race.
Astana-Premier Tech are officially a Kazakh-Canadian team for 2021, with the Canadian biotechnology company now a title sponsor and equal team owner.
Hugo Houle and Ben Perry fly the flag for Canada in the team, with Steve Bauer on board as a directeur sportif. Alexandr Vinokourov remains as team manager as managing director Yana Seel takes more control and move the team forward.
Astana-Premier Tech presented their 2021 colours last week, keeping the Astana blue but adding a geometric fade. They showed off their colours and confirmed their ambitions at a virtual team presentation on Sunday afternoon from their training camp in Spain.
The team has a 31-rider roster for 2021, with eight new signings, including Stefan de Bod and talented young Italians Samuele Battistella -the under-23 world champion in Yorkshire, Matteo Sobrero and Andrea Piccolo.
“We’re very proud that Premier Tech have come on board as a title sponsor and co-owner. It’s the first time we’ve introduced a big international company as an equal share co-owner alongside our partners from Kazakhstan. Having these two parties onboard gives us confidence for the long term,” Seel said during the presentation.
“We were very grateful to be able to ride all three Grand Tours in 2020 and win 15 races. I just hope we can have a normal season in 2021, that’s a lot in these difficult times.”
Vinokourov hopes the team can win 30 races in 2021 and return to the podium at the Giro d’Italia with Vlasov. Miguel Angel Lopez finished sixth at the Tour de France but has opted to move to Movistar.
The talented 24-year-old Vlasov was linked to Ineos Grenadiers after winning the Giro dell’Emilia and impressing at the Vuelta a España. However, he had a contract for 2021 and Astana hope team leadership at the Giro can tempt him to extend his contract. Vlasov moved to Italy to race as a Junior and speaks Italian fluently. He was struck by a virus and abandoned during stage 2 this year his climbing ability makes him a real contender for the Corsa Rosa.
“Like last year, I will start my 2021 season with Tour de la Provence followed by Volta ao Algarve and Paris-Nice. After those races, I will start to prepare with an altitude camp, and my participation at the Tour of the Alps, for my main goal of the season, the Giro d'Italia,” Vlasov said.
“I already got a taste of Grand Tours at last year's Giro, which was not the Grand Tour start I was hoping for, and the Vuelta. I am really motivated to return to Italy and try to give my best. Beside the Giro d'Italia, the Olympic Games are an event to focus on.”
Fuglsang turns 36 in March but insisted he is still ambitious and motivated after focusing on road racing later than most. The Dane has often tried to target Grand Tours but always come unstuck after crashes and dips in form.
He won Il Lombardia in August and will even target the Tour of Flanders in 2021, as he tries to collect Monument Classics. Olympic gold will be a central goal to his season after he won a silver medal behind Greg van Avermaet in 2016 in Rio.
“My first highlight of the season will be the Ardennes Classics, with the Italian spring races as preparation. After that, I will take on the Tour de France to get ready for the Olympic Games, where I hope to change Rio’s silver into Tokyo’s gold medal,” he said.
“Of course, it’d be great to collect at least one stage win at the Tour de France, but my main focus will be the Olympic road race. I am happy with my calendar and think the Tour route, like the parcours in Tokyo, suits me to achieve something great.”
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