Team Astana is beefing up for 2019 with the Izagirre brothers, Ion and Gorka, and eyes signing GC star Mikel Landa, currently under contract for 2019 with Movistar.
The team of Alexandre Vinokourov already counts on Miguel Angel López but wants reinforcement and a second option for Grand Tours like the Tour de France.
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“Ion and Gorka are very strong riders and their results are well-known,” said Alexandre Vinokourov
“This year Gorka became the Spanish road race champion, while Ion showed some high performances in stage races and at the Tour de France.”
They led Bahrain-Merida in the recent Tour de France after Vincenzo Nibali was forced to abandon. Ion placed 22nd and Gorka placed 24th.
“In Astana we are ready to help the brothers to do another step ahead in their career and to lead them to new, higher results,” added Vinokourov. “I believe that their potential has not yet been fully disclosed and we are ready to do everything necessary for them to be fully realised.”
Ion, 29, raced with Euskaltel-Euskadi and Movistar, winning the 2016 Tour’s Morzine stage. He joined Bahrain-Merida in the team’s first year in 2017. Gorka, 30, moved to Bahrain-Merida in 2018. Racing for Movistar, he won the Giro d’Italia’s Peschici stage in 2017.
Colombian Miguel Angel López is leading the Astana team in the 2018 Vuelta a España after placing third overall behind Froome and winning the youth castigation in the Giro d’Italia this May. The 24-year-old is under contract through 2020 with Astana.
Basque cyclist Mikel Landa is still under contract with Movistar after having joined the team for 2018 from Team Sky. He helped Chris Froome win the 2017 Tour and placed fourth overall.
There are reports that the multiple leaders in Team Movistar may not suit everyone including Landa. Movistar, for a price, may be willing to let him go to Astana.
“He is a cyclist that I love to have, if it is not possible in 2019, we will try to sign him for 2020,” Vinokourov told Spain’s Marca website.
“I think he can take the Tour de France overall, and he has potential to develop
“He still has a contract with Movistar and we have to respect it, but it’s not hidden that we’ve talked to him and we’d love to have him under our roof again.”
Landa rode for Astana for 2014 and 2015 at Fabio Aru’s side before joining Team Sky. In 2015, he placed third in the Giro d’Italia.
“He is one of our most important cyclists,” said Vinokourov. “It was a pity he could not go to this Vuelta because he was definitely a candidate to fight for the podium.”
Landa was due to race the Vuelta a España, which began on Saturday, but could not after a crash in the Clásica San Sebastián. He is recovering from fractured vertebrae and ribs.