Astana's build-up to the 2014 campaign is underway in earnest in Calpe, where the team has gathered for its first formal training camp ahead of the new season. The team arrived in Spain on December 10 and will remain until Friday.
The Tour de France is team leader Vincenzo Nibali's primary goal for 2014, but the Giro winner explained that, as ever, his season is broken into two distinct blocks, with a rest period in between. The first block begins with the Tour de San Luis in Argentina in January and runs until Liège-Bastogne-Liège, while the second is centred on the Tour.
"I'm a rider who's always had multiple objectives through the season and broken it up into two parts, with a break in between," Nibali said earlier in the week. "I've always managed to do well by following that plan, but it's not always easy either."
Among the new signings on show in Calpe is Michele Scarponi, still training in his Lampre-Merida kit as the final days of his 2013 contract wind down. The veteran Scarponi has been signed with a dual purpose: to support Nibali at the Tour and to lead Astana's challenge at the Giro d'Italia.
"It's the first time we're on the same team, apart from a couple of races with Italy obviously, but Scarponi's a very good rider and he’ll be able to show his worth out on the road," Nibali said. Scarponi was victim of a crash early on the camp, but reported no serious after-effects from the fall and was able to play a full part in training throughout.
The Astana squad broke into a series of smaller groups to undertake a series of team time trial drills on Sunday, and then had a five and a half hour training ride on Monday, before posing for the official team photographs the following day.
For a gallery of pictures on and off the bike from the Astana camp, click here.