Alexey Lutsenko has said he will aim for a podium at the Tour de France.
The Kazakh riding for the Kazakhstani team of Astana has been very consistent on all terrain in various types of races, but has struggled to go that one step further and to win or compete for the biggest races.
Lutsenko managed a very impressive seventh place at the 2021 Tour, after taking second at the Critérium du Dauphiné behind Ineos Grenadiers' Richie Porte.
Speaking at Astana's training camp in Spain, Lutsenko said: "It’s not going to be easy but top three in the Tour de France is a goal for me and the team.
"This year with my seventh in the Tour I proved that I can be in the mix with the best riders. Thanks to the team and staff I did an amazing job this year, so I think that we’ll try and do everything possible in the next years to reach this goal. Nothing is impossible and it’s a really big goal for the next years."
However, this may be even more challenging than in previous years, with the return of Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) to the fold as well as defending champion Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) who will be looking for a third title in a row.
Additional competition will come from the likes of Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma), Geraint Thomas, Richard Carapaz (both Ineos Grenadiers), Enric Mas (Movistar), Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) among others.
But the rider who has spent his entire 10-year career with Astana says that he and his team are fully invested in working towards Grand Tours.
"I had to change a lot to be Grand Tour GC rider. I took it step-by-step, first by being competitive in the week-long races. Then we decided to work towards Grand Tours.
"We changed a lot in our preparation, it’s completely different for a lot of things, like eating. There are a lot of things to change if you want to be a Grand Tour rider.
"I had some good results in other races, like the cobbled Classics but I think that I have good room to improve in the mountains and the longer races. I can be competitive there and year by year I feel like I’m getting better at climbing, and on the longer climbs too."
The 29-year-old said that after the team's second training camp on the island of Tenerife he would go to the Tour de la Provence before heading to the Vuelta a Andalucía, otherwise known as the Ruta del Sol.
After that it's the Ardennes with a potential ride at the Tour of Flanders then a break before the Dauphiné and the Tour.
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