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Alexandr Vinokurov: We are grateful to each of riders, who were part of Astana Pro Team

The structure of cycling is such that every year in professional teams there are changes in their rosters: some of the riders leave the team, someone comes. In the end of 2018, 10 riders will leave Astana Team: Michael Valgren, Tanel Kangert, Oscar Gatto, Jesper Hansen, Moreno Moser, Sergei Chernetskii, Andriy Grivko, Truls Korsaeth, Riccardo Minali and Ruslan Tleubayev. Someone will continue his career in other professional teams, setting new goals, someone decides to quit his cycling career, focusing on life outside the sport.

- We are grateful to each of the riders who were part of Astana Team, no matter if it was just for a year, two, five or ten. On behalf of Astana Pro Team I want to wish all the guys who are leaving our project a good luck and success in the new season! - said general manager Alexandr Vinokurov.

Michael Valgren spent two seasons in Astana. During this time, Michael proved to be a strong classic rider with serious ambitions both in cobblestones classics and in the Ardennes. In Astana Team Michael scored two big victories at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad Elite and the Amstel Gold Race.

- I think that this year Michael was one of the strongest classic riders not only in Astana, but also around the world. His wins at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Amstel Gold Race, a podium at the Bretagne Classic and a great performance at the World Championships speak for themselves. In Astana Michael was able to make a big step forward, and I am sure that his development will continue in the new season, even if not in our team. I was pleased to work with him in Astana, and I wish him a great success in the new project, - said sports director Lars Michaelsen.

Tanel Kangert joined Astana Team in 2011, having spent 8 strong seasons in the Kazakh project. Among the personal achievements of Kangert in Astana colors it is worth noting a GC victory at the Abu Dhabi Tour (2016), a stage at the Tour de Suisse (2012) and two stages at the Giro del Trentino (2016). Three times Tanel Kangert helped the leader of the team to achieve success on the Grand tours: two times at the Giro d'italia in 2013 and 2016 and once at the Tour de France in 2014.

- Tanel is a great athlete, an excellent mountain rider, who spent 8 wonderful seasons in Astana. He made a great contribution to the team's victories in the Grand tours. Now, perhaps, came the moment when he began to think about some changes in his career, perhaps he wanted to try something new in one of the other teams. I think this is absolutely normal. We fully respect Tanel's decision and wish him continued success in his career. I want to say a big thank to Tanel for all the years spent with us, – said team manager Dmitriy Fofonov.

Oscar Gatto spent two seasons in the Kazakh team. In 2017 he won a stage at the Tour of Austria and finished 5th at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. In the 2018 season at the same classic race Oscar provided a great support to Michael Valgren who, finally, became the winner of the Omloop.

- Oscar is a good rider and a wonderful person, very open and sociable. In Astana he had a number of good results, in each race Oscar tried to be as useful as possible to the team. But perhaps the time has come to change something, and I hope that in the new team he will succeed more than with us. Regardless of that in the future he will ride in the colors of another project, we part as good friends, - said sports director Bruno Cenghialta.

Jesper Hansen came to Astana Pro Team in 2017; together with the team he did two Grand tours (Giro in 2017 and Tour in 2018) and took a solid second place in the general classification of the Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey.

- Jesper came to the team as a rider, who was supposed to help the leaders in the high mountains. Last year at the Giro d'Italia he showed himself very well, also this season at the Tour de France he did everything he could to help our leader. Well, we can only wish Jesper all the best in the new team, I hope that this transfer will have a good impact on his career, will give him some new impetus that will lead to success, - said Lars Michaelsen.

Moreno Moser end his second season with Astana Pro Team. Due to some health problems Moreno was forced to skip the middle of the last season. This year in the jersey of the Italian National Team Moser took a nice win at the Trofeo Laigueglia.

- Moreno spent two years with us. Perhaps he was not able to fully realize what he expected from himself, and what the team expected from him. There were also objective reasons related to health. However, Moreno is still not told everything in cycling, it was great to watch his success at the Trofeo Laigueglia early in the season. Well, if not everything turned out in our team, I hope that it will turn out in the new team. Good luck, Moreno! - said sports director Giuseppe Martinelli.

Sergei Chernetskii rode two nice seasons together with Astana Team. In 2017 he did a good Vuelta a España and showed well himself at the Il Lombardia, taking a solid 10th place, while in 2018 he brought to Astana an overall win at the Arctic Race of Norway and finished 3rd in the general classification of the Gree-Tour of Guangxi.

- Sergey is a big professional, he is 100% dedicated to the sport. We spent two seasons together, not everything worked out for Sergei at the beginning of this period, but I am very glad that in the second half of this year he began to really open up. He has great potential, he always works honestly for the benefit of the team and, as we have seen, he knows how to win. I hope that Sergei will continue career in a good team, where will be able to realize himself completely, - the sports director Dmitri Sedoun told.

Truls Korsaeth began and, unfortunately, ended his fleeting professional career in Astana Team where he came in 2017. In a year and a half Truls showed himself as a talented and hardworking rider with some good perspectives in the classic races. But, last summer he decided to quit his career and to focus on the studies.

- We were a little surprised by the decision of Truls to finish his sports career right in the middle of the season. He spent a year and a half with us, but apparently felt some limit in cycling and decided to finish his career. Well, that's his decision, we accepted it. As far as I know, Truls decided to focus on his studies, chose a medical direction. Of course, this is a serious step in his life. We were counting on Truls for the classic races, such as the Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders, we saw a certain potential in him. During the time spent in the team, he showed himself really well, his work was done perfectly. But, unfortunately, it did not work for his cycling career. Nevertheless, we wish him good luck in life outside the sport, - said Dmitriy Fofonov.

Andriy Grivko spent in Astana Team 9 seasons, coming to the team in 2010. The veteran of the Kazakh team won La Méditerranéenne in 2016, became 2nd at the Driedaagse Pe Panne-Koksijde in 2010 and 3rd at the Eneco Tour in 2013. Many times he was one of the key riders for the leaders at the Grand tours.

- Andriy spent a very long period of life with us, perhaps it was a separate little life. I think that for him the period in Astana is the best in his career, together with us he was able to achieve good results, while giving the team a lot. The team always believed in Andriy, and he always justified this trust. It was a wonderful time. All I can say now is a big thank for all these years, - said Dmitri Sedoun.

Riccardo Minali signed his first professional contract with Astana Pro Team in 2017, becoming the main sprinter of the team despite his young age. In two years in the Kazakh project Riccardo won two stages at Le Tour de Langkawi and took a number of podium places at the stages of Dubai Tour, Tour of Croatia, Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey, Tour of Denmark and Baloise Belgium Tour.

- I think that Riccardo is a very good sprinter, who is able to win much more than he has won at the moment. Perhaps, in such a team as Astana, which pays great attention to the Grand tours and is focused on the fight for the general classifications, the young sprinter might have some problems to prove himself in full. Nevertheless, some results were shown – two victories in Langkawi and a few podiums in other races – it's very good. I wish Riccardo to find a team that will be 100% suitable for him and where he will be able to realize his talent. I hope to see new victories of Riccardo, even if not in the Astana jersey, - said Giuseppe Martinelli.

Ruslan Tleubaev joined Astana Team in 2011, first as a trainee, and in 2013 as a neo-pro rider. For six big seasons, Ruslan proved to be an excellent team rider, at the same time, having achieved a number of good results. So, in 2014, Tleubayev won the Asian Cycling Championships and in 2016 he won a stage of the Tour of Hainan. At the end of 2018 Ruslan Tleubaev will end his professional career.

- Ruslan joined our team 6 years ago, he started here his professional career. During this time together, we have gone both through many wonderful moments and through difficulties. In his career, Ruslan had victories, high achievements and team successes, which he shared with all of us. I think, together, we all tried to do our best. I would like to thank Ruslan on behalf of our team and wish him all the best in the new turn of his life, - said Dmitri Sedoun.

Photo credit: ©Bettiniphoto

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