The Astana team is set to switch Argon 18 bikes for the 2017 season and beyond, ending a seven-year partnership with Specialized. The Canadian manufacturer announced on Monday that they would step up to the WorldTour after securing a three-year deal with the Kazakhstani squad.
Astana has ridden Specialized bikes since the 2010 season, but there had long been rumours that they would leave as they pooled their resources into remaining with key riders. The move is a direct swap with Specialized who are expected to switch to the Bora-Hansgrohe team for the next three seasons, a move that sees them remain with Peter Sagan. Argon 18 stepped into professional road cycling last season as the secondary sponsor of the Bora-Argon 18 team, and also supplies bikes to triathletes and the Danish track squad.
"The WorldTour circuit is the world stage of cycling and Argon 18 makes bikes for the world," Argon 18 CEO Gervais Rioux said in a press release. "To be associated with Astana Pro Team and the WorldTour confirms once more our status of leading global bike manufacturer in the industry. We are very enthusiastic about this new partnership and what it means for Argon 18's future."
On Monday, Astana announced that they had signed four new riders in Moreno Moser, Jesper Hansen, Michael Valgren and Oscar Gatto. Giro d'Italia winner Vincenzo Nibali is set to leave the squad at the end of the year, while Fabio Aru will be their key Grand Tour rider. In recent weeks, the team has also announced contract extensions with Michele Scarponi, Tanel Kangert and Miguel Angel Lopez.