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Astana targeting second Tour of Oman victory with Lutsenko

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New race leader Alexey Lutsenko (Astana)

New race leader Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Race leader Alexey Lutsenko (Astana)

Race leader Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) (Image credit: Tim de Waele/Getty Images Sport)
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Magnus Cort Nielson (Astana)

Magnus Cort Nielson (Astana) (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Davide Ballerini (Astana) on the attack at the 2019 Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race

Davide Ballerini (Astana) on the attack at the 2019 Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race (Image credit: Getty Images)
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The 2019 Tour of Oman route.

The 2019 Tour of Oman route. (Image credit: Tour of Oman)

Alexey Lutsenko will be aiming to start his season as he did in 2018, with victory at the Tour of Oman. The Kazakhstani rider will lead Astana as he looks to defend the stage race victory he took 12 months ago.

Astana dominated the ninth edition of the Gulf race, winning two stages and the overall title, as well claiming second place overall and the young rider classification. One of those stage winners, Magnus Cort will be returning to the race this year. Cort has already got his season underway in Europe at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana last week, while Lutsenko is making his 2019 season debut

Astana’s other stage victor from last year, Miguel Angel Lopez will not return to the Tour of Oman this year after choosing to start his year at home with the Colombian nationals followed by the second edition of the Tour Colombia 2.1. Lopez won the queen stage to Jabal Al Akhdhar last season, and finished second to Lutsenko in the overall standings, taking the young rider jersey in the process.

Aside from Lutsenko and Cort, the team has a very different look for the 2019 Tour of Oman with a number of riders making their first appearance at the race. New signing Davide Ballerini is one of those who hasn’t raced in Oman previously. The young Italian joined Astana over the winter and made his first appearance in team colours at the Tour Down Under last month. Ballerini is a promising one-day rider and could provide the team with stage success.

Artyom Zakharov and Yevgeniy Gidich join Ballerini from Astana’s Tour Down Under line-up, while Hugo Houle arrives in Oman having completed the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana. Former Kazakhstan time trial champion Zhandos Bizhigitov completes the seven-man line-up.

The Tour of Oman will begin this weekend on Saturday, February 16 with a flat stage from Al Sawadi Beach to Suhar Corniche.