Jan Hirt will ride in the WorldTour peloton for at least the next two years with Astana, having signed from CCC Sprandi Polkowice. The Czech rider impressed at the Giro d'Italia in May, his debut Grand Tour, riding to 12th overall, and will be a key GC addition for the Kazakh squad.
Hirt, 26, has spent the last three seasons with Polish Pro-Continental squad CCC after a season each at Continental level with Leopold and Etixx. During his time with CCC, he developed into a general classification rider, with the 2016 Tour of Austria his biggest win to date.
In 2017, Hirt has also impressed with fifth place overall at the Czech Cycling Tour and third place at the Tour of Croatia. Should Fabio Aru re-sign with Astana, Hirt will be a key support rider for the Italian national champion in the Grand Tours. If Aru is to leave Astana, Hirt is likely to be given the opportunity to ride for his own results in a three-week race, with Miguel Angel Lopez the other budding stage racer at the team.
"During the last few years I’ve worked a lot to constantly move ahead in my professional development. And now, I am very happy that in the next season I will do the long-awaited step into the WorldTour," said Hirt in a statement from the Astana team.
"I am proud that this step I will do with Astana, one of the strongest teams around the world. That’s something incredible! I am ready to give my best to help Astana Team to reach high results in the upcoming season."
Hirt will join new signings Omar Fraile from Dimension Data, Davide Villella from Cannondale-Drapac, and Magnus Cort from Orica-Scott at Astana from next year.
"Jan Hirt is a young and quickly progressing rider. In the last two years his development really impresses, while at the Giro d’Italia he proved his great potential for the Grand tours," said Astana's general manager, Alexandr Vinokourov.
"I am sure Jan will bring some strengthening to our team, while his moving to the WorldTour level will help him to do a big step ahead in his professional career."