Astana manager Alexander Vinokourov has said that the team will be seeking damages from Fabio Aru after he left for fellow WorldTour team UAE Team Emirates.
Italian champion Aru will leave the Kazakh team for UAE after agreeing a three-year deal that was announced in October, but Vinokourov says they will begin legal action over the transfer.
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According to Vesti.kz back in July, Aru had an extension clause with Astana that would see him only leave if a team offered more than 20 per cent than he was offered by them.
Vesti.kz also reports Vinkourov as saying that the legal action would come because Aru left the team too late in the year, leaving them unable to source a GC replacement.
“It will now be up to the lawyers, because he left us no choice,” Vinokourov said. “He should have said [about leaving] right after the Tour de France in order to make an amicable agreement.”
“There was still time after the Tour de France, we could have used the budget to sign another rider such as Uran,” he added. “But knowing just two weeks ago meant it was impossible to sign anybody, all the riders are signed. Therefore, the lawyers will decide things.”
UAE have made a number of big signings for 2018, including fellow GC rider Dan Martin to perform alongside Aru, while Alexander Kristoff is also expected to ride with the team next year.
Astana meanwhile will now have to look to this year’s Critérium du Dauphiné winner Jakob Fuglsang and double Vuelta a España stage winner Miguel Angel Lopez for their GC hopes. They let Mikel Landa leave for Sky in 2016, before Vincenzo Nibali jumped ship to Bahrain-Merida at the start of this year, and they will now see Aru move on to UAE.
Vinkourov confirmed that the team would seek compensation, regretting the way Aru ended his time with the team.
“We are going to demand some compensation from him for the damage caused because we were left without a top rider,” Vinokourov said.
“We are grateful for him having spent so many years in our team so it’s unpleasant but he chose this way,”