Astana expects big things from Italian sprinter, Andrea Guardini at next month’s Santos Tour Down Under with the team roster for the event announced today.
Guardini confirmed his talent at this year’s Giro d’Italia, taking victory on Stage 18 beating Mark Cavendish. He is regarded by many as the future of Italian cycling and aims to make his presence felt in Australia.
Santos Tour Down Under Race Director Mike Turtur said the Astana team would be eager to impress.
“A number of Astana’s riders will be new to the team in 2013, and will be looking to notch up strong performances early in the season,” Mr Turtur said.
“There is plenty in the 2013 Santos Tour Down Under to challenge even the most experienced cyclists and fans can expect a diverse race that is sure to be hotly contested.”
The 2013 Santos Tour Down Under features an equal spread of stages to suit sprinters and all-rounders, with a new ŠKODA King of the Mountain climb on Corkscrew Hill to test the field.
“Astana sprinters such as Andrea Guardini will have ample opportunity to push for line honours, while team climber Valerio Agnoli will no doubt be looking to make his mark,” Mr Turtur said.
“We look forward to welcoming the Astana team back to South Australia in January.”
Giuseppe Martinelli, Team Manager expects big things from Andrea Guardini at the Santos Tour Down Under.
"Guardini has all of the characteristics of becoming a world class sprinter. His explosive jump and tremendous leg speed took him to more than 20 top-10 finishes last season, including a win at the Giro d'Italia against the World Champion, and made him a highly desirable prospect for 2013. Astana is sending a strong squad in support of Andrea to the Santos Tour Down Under in January," said Martinelli.
Alexandr Vinokurov , General Manager, Astana said that the first WorldTour race of the season is a priority for the team.
"Australia's season-opening World Tour race has grown tremendously over the years, and the combination of great crowds, great weather and a great race make the Santos Tour Down Under a distinct priority for Astana Pro Team in 2013. Adelaide should watch out for Guardini, he will make his presence known at the finish," Vinokurov said.
Kazakh cycling champion Maxim Iglinskiy will also be among members of Astana’s team at the 2013 Santos Tour Down Under.
Iglinskiy won this year’s Liège–Bastogne–Liège after catching Liquigas-Cannondale’s Vincenzo Nibali about a kilometre from the finish, with his 2012 season also including second place in the Strade Bianche.
The 31-year-old will be joined by a strong group of young Italian riders including 2012 Amstel Gold Race winner Enrico Gasparotto and Tour of Beijing stage winner Francesco Gavazzi.
The Astana team for the 2013 Santos Tour Down Under will be led by Sport Director Stefano Zanini (ITA) and includes riders: Maxim Iglinskiy (KAZ), Enrico Gasparotto (ITA), Andrea Guardini (ITA), Valerio Agnoli (ITA), Simone Ponzi (ITA), Francesco Gavazzi (ITA) and the seventh rider still to be announced.
NOTE RECENT TEAM RIDER CHANGES:
BMC Racing Team
Ivan Santaromita (ITA) will replace Alessandro Ballan (ITA) who is recovering from injury due to a recent crash during training.
Boy Van Poppel (NED) will join Vacansoleil-DCM for the 2013 season, making his team debut at the Santos Tour Down Under with the team naming him as their seventh rider.
The Santos Tour Down Under will be held in Adelaide and regional South Australia from 20-27 January 2013.