The 'new' 2010 Astana team is slowly taking shape with team leaders Alberto Contador, Alexandre Vinokourov and Oscar Pereiro joining their team mates for training at the squad's first training camp in Tuscany.
Contador, Vinokourov and Pereiro happily posed for photographs on Friday morning before heading out for a two-hour spin around Pisa.
The team has gathered in Tuscany to undergo medical checks with the team's new medical staff based in Pisa.
A lack of official team vehicles and equipment showed the team is still scrabbling to get ready for the new season. However, the atmosphere seemed relaxed and jovial. Contador seemed a lot happier without the overbearing presence of former team mate and rival Lance Armstrong.
While the 'old' Astana was a mix of American and Belgian influences - because of the presence of Armstrong and team manager Johan Bruyneel - the 'new' Astana is more Spanish and Italian, despite the presence of Vinokourov.
Although new team manager Yvon Sanquer is French, most of the staff are Italian, with Giuseppe Martinelli and Guido Bontempi the most experienced directeur sportifs in the new set-up.
With Armstrong taking most of the best Astana riders with him to RadioShack, Sanquer and Martinelli have tried to rebuild the team with whatever riders were available at the end of the season. New signings include Gorazd Stangelj from Liquigas, David de la Fuente from Fuji-Servetto, Italians Paolo Tiralongo and Enrico Gasparotto from Lampre and the Ukraine's Andriy Grivko from ISD.
Alberto Contador and Alexandre Vinokourov go out training
Specialized and SRAM in 2010
Cycling Weekly understands that the new Astana team will continue to use SRAM components in 2010.
Several riders, including Pereiro, are already using red and white Specialized bikes fitted with SRAM components despite still being under contract with other teams and sponsors. The riders will use the Specialized carbon cranks and Zipp wheels.
Contador and Vinokourov will hold their first joint press conference on Friday afternoon. There will be a full report on www.cyclingweekly.com.
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