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Astana winds up for Le Tour

With the red-hot favourite for the Tour de France in Alexandre Vinokourov, Astana's main objective for this year's race is to arrive in Paris with the Yellow Jersey in its camp. "The Yellow Jersey is our number one objective," team director Andrea Baffi told "The team is built around Vino, so he has all it takes to win the race. But we also have Klöden and Savoldelli who are both able to ride for the general classification if circumstances change.

"You never know what can happen, but anyway, we have three riders who have shown their ability in the major tours and who are able of remaining in the forefront for 21 days," added Baffi, referring to last year's 231km Stage 13 to Montélimar, where the surprise break away gained over 20 minutes and included the eventual second-placed rider in Paris, Oscar Pereiro.

Baffi is confident of his squad's potential, but understands the Tour is won on the road to Paris, not on paper. "We know our team is among the strongest ones," he said. "So we are confident, but in cycling you do not win on paper. We have to face other riders who want to win and it always depends on the itinerary."

Last month's Dauphiné Libéré was a good learning experience for the squad, providing lessons in realism and adapting to surroundings. "[We] learned that, sometimes, you cannot do much except be realistic," he continued. "When you ride against someone like Moreau, who was in great shape, you just have to accept to let him go. That is why one cannot make too many plans.

"Our team is quite fit since we won four stages at the Dauphine Libéré," he added. "But eventually the mountain decided to make us finish third in the general classification. Fortunately, we think our riders will keep improving before the beginning of the Tour."

Astana's Tour de France roster: Antonio Colom (Esp), Maxim Iglinskiy (Kaz), Serguei Ivanov (Rus), Andrey Kashechkin (Kaz), Andreas Klöden (Ger), Daniel Navarro (Esp), Gregory Rast (Swi), Paolo Savoldelli (Ita), Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz).

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