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Astana announced an upgrade to its stage racing stable on Monday. The Izagirre brothers, Ion and Gorka, will join the Kazakh squad for the next two seasons.
The Basque duo, known for their balanced skillsets as strong time trialists and climbers, are currently in Spain riding the Vuelta a España with Bahrain-Merida. Ion Izagirre has been tabbed as the team’s GC leader there with Vincenzo Nibali still working his way back from a broken vertebra sustained at the Tour de France.
The Izagirres — younger brother Ion in particular — will bring a strong track record of stage racing success to their new digs. Ion Izagirre, 29, has won stages in both the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia, claimed the overall title at the 2015 Tour de Pologne, and has delivered numerous podium performances in other one-week WorldTour races.
For his part, 30-year-old Gorka counts a stage win at the 2017 Giro d’Italia on his palmares. He also finished third at Paris-Nice earlier this year.
“Me and Gorka, we know very well a part of the team, the riders and some staff and this is important for us, because it will help us to accommodate quickly inside the team,” Ion Izagirre said via the team press release. “Of course, our main goal is victories, we are ready to help the team on the way to its big goals as well as to work for our personal successes in stage races.”
Their arrival will help Astana restock for the coming season. Alexandre Vinokourov’s team will lose rising star Michael Valgren and long-tenured grand tour domestique Tanel Kangert in 2019, with the former bound for Dimension Data and the latter headed to EF Education First-Drapac.
“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,” Vinokourov said. “I believe that their potential has not yet been fully disclosed and we are ready to do everything necessary for them to be fully realized in Astana Pro Team.”