Giro d’Italia podium finisher Fabio Aru will lead Astana at the Vuelta a Espana as the Kazakhstan-sponsored team bids to continue its stunning season of Grand Tour success.
Aru set the tone with a third place finish at the Giro d’Italia before Vincenzo Nibali followed up by storming to the Tour de France title.
This time round, Astana will start the Vuelta, which begins with a team time trial in Jerez on Saturday (August 23) with a balanced line-up.
Aru, who raced for the first time since finishing the Giro d’Italia at the Tour of Poland, but suffered a frustrating race after crashing on stage one, will be backed by one of Nibali’s key domestiques in Tanel Kangert.
Kangert finished 20th at the Tour and was a vital man in the mountains for Nibali, particularly after Jakob Fuglsang suffered a heavy crash.
Mikel Landa, who impressed at the Vuelta a Burgos, will be another strong support rider in the mountains while Paolo Tiralongo and Andrey Zeits – one of three Kazakh riders in the team – offer plenty of experience.
The team will also target flat stages with Andrea Guardini, Jacopo Guarnieri and Alexey Lutsenko forming the sprint train.
Guardini – a stage winner at the Eneco Tour – will be Astana’s chief sprinter, having previously won two stages at the Tour of Denmark alongside Lutsenko.
The team is completed by Daniil Fominykh, who makes his Grand Tour debut.
Astana for the 2014 Vuelta a Espana
Fabio Aru (ITA)
Mikel Landa (ESP)
Tanel Kangert (EST)
Paolo Tiralongo (ITA)
Daniil Fominykh (KAZ)
Andrea Guardini (ITA)
Alexey Lutsenko (KAZ)
Andrey Zeits (KAZ)
Jacopo Guarnieri (ITA)