Vincenzo Nibali has yet to pull on the sky blue Astana jersey and will only officially be an Astana rider from January 1. Yet the Italian stage race rider has already working hard with is new teammates at a recent training camp in Sardinia.
All the 2013 Astana squad spent two weeks training together in Arzachena, in northern Sardegna, staying at the impressive Tenuta Pilastru. The area is packed with wealthy tourists in the summer but is deserted in December, with sheep far out numbering local residents.
Astana used the quiet roads to get in vital base kilometres ready for the 2013 season, with the 2012 Astana colours contrasting with those of new signing who have to ride in their 2012 team colours until the end of the year.
That meant that Jakob Fuglsang was in his black and white Radioshack colours, Nibali was in Liquigas-Cannondale green and Italian sprinter Andrea Guardini rode his fluorescent Farnese Vini kit. New American signing Evan Huffman got a taste of riding in Europe and rode alongside Nibali in his black California Giant-Specialized kit.
Guardini was the start sprinter of the Farnese Vini and managed to beat Mark Cavendish to win stage 18 to Vedelago. He will be the protected sprinter at Astana in 2013 and have support from Jacopo Guarnieri and Francesco Gavazzi.
Other new riders include Under 23 road race world champion Aletxsey Lutsenko. He trained in his rainbow jersey but will be back in Astana colours in 2013 when he makes his full professional debut.
The 2013 Astana roster includes 10 Italian riders, with Alessandro Vanotti and Valerio Agnoli moving from Liquigas-Cannondale to Astana to work for Nibali. Much of the team staff is also Italian with Marco Pantani's former directeur sportif Giuseppe Martinelli now team manager responsible for the technical aspects of the team. Former Mapei sprinter and Geox directeur sportif Stefano Zanini is new to the team and kept a close eye on the riders in Sardinia.