Astana want to “ride this wave as long as possible” while the victories keep rolling in: three in the last 24 hours with Jakob Fuglsang celebrating in Tirreno-Adriatico and Ion Izagirre in Paris-Nice on Sunday.
Fuglsang climbed to hilltop town of Recanati 24 hours after his team-mate Alexey Lutsenko fought for stage fourAin Italy. Fuglsang’s solo ride came just minutes before Ion Izagirre’s win in Paris-Nice.
Now at 19 wins this season, they lead the ever-strong Deceuninck-Quick-Step. However, he said that they are not looking at their Belgian rivals or fighting to stay ahead of them.
“No, we just try to win as much as possible!” Fuglsang said if the team looks at Deceuninck’s numbers.
“But I think 70 or whatever they came up with last year is impressive. There is still a long ways to go for us but we don’t have sprinters who win 20 times in the year.
“We will see but for sure in this moment we will ride this wave as long as possible and use it as a motivation for the team to keep the way.”
Deceuninck-Quick-Step closed 2018 with 73 victories, the most out of any WorldTour team ahead of Team Sky with 43. Astana took 30 last year, and were locked at 17 each with Quick-Step yesterday after Lutsenko’s win, but Astana move into the lead now with 19.
“I said this morning in the bus, who can win in Paris-Nice? Maybe Ion because he was not really up there until now in Paris-Nice but you have to look that the whole team is going strong and everyone is motivated,” he continued.
“It’s not 19 victories from two guys but 19 from eight or nine different guys. That is really the strength and that only comes because we work as a team and we’ve seen in the last two days how good the team works together and how everybody does everything they can to try to make it possible.”
The Dane blasted away on the hilly circuit in Marche while race leader Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) sat locked in a classification battle with Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma). He wanted it badly after finishing second behind Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) in Strade Bianche last week.
“Now and then I get a win and then I get another five second places but if I have to win, I have to win this way and most of my wins have come this way, going the distance and pushing myself,” he added.
Astana’s first 2019 win came with Ion Izagirre. Miguel Ángel López won the Tour Colombia overall classification, Lutsenko the overall in Oman, Fuglsang the Ruta del Sol and Merhawi Kudus the Tour of Rwanda.
“What’s the reason? Basically it’s just happens like this and we had a good winter but in the end a lot of us have done different things,” Fuglsang said.
“I was in South Africa over Christmas and New Year’s training good and skipping the team training camp in January, but I trained at home and then went straight to Tenerife with a few other guys.
“I think it was more than teamwork and everything comes together more than anything. Once the team is going strong makes everyone motivated.”