Kessiakoff signs new deal with Astana

Fredrik Kessiakoff has extended his contract with Astana until the end of the 2014 season, the Swedish rider has confirmed to Swedish Eurosport. The 32-year-old joined the Kazakh outfit from Garmin in 2011 and spoke of his delight at signing the deal.

"Astana was the first choice and it feels great to get along and have it on paper that I stay there for two more years," he said. "They have given me confidence. I have a good relationship with the leaders of the team. Even when I run bad, they have not chased me but believed in me and given me the time I have needed."

Kessiakoff, who wore the polka dot jersey for seven days at last month's Tour de France, before surrendering it to Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) in the Pyrenees mountains on stage 16, revealed that his new contract incorporates a pay rise. He is also excited by the prospect of riding alongside Astana's high-profile new recruit Vincenzo Nibali, who will join from Liquigas-Cannondale at the end of the season.

"It feels like a carrot to get some more in salary," he said. "There is nothing to justify, to show the team that I deserve it. It is important, but even if another team would pay more money I could not be sure of getting the same freedom to thrive equally well. I do not know if it's worth it. I've been there before, and I will not go there again."

Of Nibali's signing, Kessiakoff said: "It is great. If you ask me, Astana is one of the big teams. A team like Astana needs a few cyclists who may be top three or top five contenders in the major competitions. There are not many who can, but he [Nibali] has shown himself to be one of them. It's a great addition to the team."

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