Astana Women's Team have snapped up double junior world champion Elena Pirrone and her promising fellow junior Letizia Paternoster for the 2018 season. The team have already signed Colombian Blanca Liliana Moreno and Cuban Jeidi Pradera for the forthcoming season.
Pirrone and the Italian junior women had a hugely successful week at the Worlds in Bergen, with the 18-year-old taking victory in the time trial before a solo win a few days later in the road race. The success came off the back of a victory in the time trial at the European championships in Herning, Denmark at the start of August. She is hoping to combine her racing with schooling in 2018.
"I knew I arrived in Norway in good shape," said Pirrone. "I had great feelings when we tested the routes. The time trial was a big goal of mine, but I was also hoping to do well in the road race: I even dreamed about the race and then it became reality.
"Astana Women's Team is a well-organised team, with a very professional staff and a nice international calendar. I'm very happy to do my first year in the new category with such an important team. In the first part of the season my biggest goal will be the school, from a sporting point of view I know it won't be easy to adapt to new race rhythms but I'll try to take experience and to help my teammates when possible."
Pirrone's compatriot Paternoster finished in third place, 12 seconds behind her victorious teammate, in the Worlds road race. She had been one of the favourites for the time trial and started very well, but technical problems in the second half of the climb disrupted her run, and she would finish ninth.
Paternoster has had a very strong final season as a junior, winning both the time trial and road race title at the Italian national championships and getting silver and bronze at the respective events at the European Championships. She has also enjoyed success on the track, with European titles in the elimination race, team pursuit, individual pursuit, the Omnium and the Madison at junior level.
"I'm very happy to do this big step with the Astana Women's Team, a team with an important name but most of all a team where I can grow without pressure," explained Paternoster. "A lot of big names developed their qualities in this structure. If I'm here now with all these medals, it is obviously thanks to my parents, but also to Stefano Franco, sports director at S.C. Vecchia Fontana who believed in me since I was very young.
"My biggest dream now is the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020. So, I'll keep racing on both road and track, but in the first part of 2018, there will be also important school duties. I'm sure that with the team we'll study a schedule that'll make able to manage everything well."