Astana went on a signing spree this winter and their biggest scoop was Vincenzo Nibali. The team hope that he can revive their fortunes in grand tours, which took a nose-dive when Alberto Contador left the team. Team manager Giuseppe Martinelli spoke to Cycling News HD about what the team hope to achieve in 2013…
CNHD: You have signed Vincenzo Nibali for 2013. What does that mean to the team?
GM: “Signing Vincenzo Nibali means we now have a top-class leader for the season’s most important stage races.”
CNHD: Did he approach the team or you approach him?
GM: “I had long seen him as a rider well-suited to our team. The Pro Team Astana management and Alexandre Vinokurov made great personal efforts to approach Nibali and convince him to ride for us.”
CNHD: Does Astana have a strong enough team to support Nibali in the Grand Tours?
GM: “Absolutely. At the Giro d’Italia he will be backed up by Brajkovic, Kessiakoff and Tiralongo, plus his trusted domestiques Agnoli and Canotti.”
CNHD: Can Nibali win a grand tour next year?
GM: “Both the team and Vincenzo have got their eyes on the Giro. We will line up in Naples knowing we are among the favourites for overall victory, and we will do everything we can to make that happen up to the finish in Brescia.”
CNHD: Out of the two races to have their routes announced, which one suits Nibali better?
GM: “The Giro, without a doubt. Compared to Wiggins, Nibali is less adept at the individual time trial, but even there he knows how to defend himself. We can make gains in the team time trial and above all in the many climbs included in the route for 2013.”
CNHD: Will you work on his time trialling abilities over the winter?
GM: “Yes, we will be working with technical staff from Specialized and will make good use of the Montichiari Velodrome for specific training.”
• For more of this interview read this week’s issue of Cycling News HD. Issue 34 is the first of our season preview issues, with in depth looks at all 18 WorldTour teams and the top Pro Continental sides. This week’s teams are Sky, Argos-Shimano, Blanco Pro Cycling and Astana.
Marcel Kittel talks about his up and coming season, after his team secured their first WorldTour licence. Astana’s Amstel Gold winner Enrico Gasparotto discusses riding the Tour for the first time and trying to repeat his classics results from 2012.
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