After his fourth place at the Giro d’Italia Aleksandr Vlasov is coming into the Vuelta a España as team leader at Astana-Premier Tech with a strong contingent of Spanish riders in support, but the team's ambitions also go beyond a high place on the overall standings.
Astana-Premier Tech, which Vlasov is leaving in 2022 for Bora-Hansgrohe, said Ion and Gorka Izagirre, Luis León Sánchez, Omar Fraile, Oscar Rodriguez and Alex Aranburu will also look for opportunities to take stage victories in their home tour, which starts on Saturday.
“Aleksandr Vlasov will be our leader and he is motivated to try to improve on his previous result here at La Vuelta,” team performance manager Dmitriy Fofonov said in a statement. “After the Olympic Games and a very short break he is coming back into good form. We saw him gradually progressing at the Vuelta a Burgos, so we are expecting to see him in the mix for the high places in the General Classification.
“Also, there are six Spanish riders in our team, and we know how much the home race means for them. So Ion, Gorka, Luis Leon, Alex, Omar and Oscar will help Vlasov on the decisive stages but, at the same time, will try to find their own chance in the fight for a stage win.”
The final rider in the team will be Yuriy Natarov, 24, who is making his Grand Tour debut.
Last year at the Vuelta Vlasov finished in 11th place, in the first Grand Tour the 25 year old had ridden right through till the end. His second was the Giro d’Italia this year where he came fourth, though he had been in second place midway through but lost two positions on the Monte Zoncolan stage.
Vlasov had a break after the Giro, heading to the Olympics before racing the Vuelta a Burgos as he prepared for his second Grand Tour of the year, and last with Astana- Premier Tech before he heads to Bora-Hansgrohe.
His form heading into this year's Vuelta is a little uncertain after the rider finished in 34th place at the Vuelta a Burgos. However, he went into the Giro with podiums at the Tour of the Alps and Paris-Nice behind him but faded a little in the final week, so may be trying to conserve in a bid to hold form for later in the Vuelta.
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