Astana signs contracts with four new riders

Astana have signed contracts with four new riders, Matti Breschel, Pello Bilbao, Zhandos Bizhigitov and Sergey Chernetskiy.

Matti Breschel is a 32-year-old Danish rider and medallist of two world championships (2008, 2010). During his long career he has won 9 stages of the Tour of Denmark (2015, 2013, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007), three stages (2009, 2014) and the general classification of the Tour of Luxembourg (2014), a stage of the Vuelta a España (2008) and the Dwars Door Vlaanderen classic (2010).

“We believe that Breschel as a rider with solid experience will be of great help to Valgren at the spring classics in the Ardennes, which he is well aware of. Being the fourth Danish rider in the team, the rider is very motivated to compete for our team and help his countryman to vie for results in big races,” Alexander Vinokourov, General Team Manager, said.

Pello Bilbao is a 26-year-old Basque rider and the winner of the Klasika Primavera de Amorebieta (2011), the Tour de Beauce (2015), a stage of the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon (2015) and two stages of the Presidential Tour of Turkey (2015). During his career, he also stood at the podium of the general classification of the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon (2016) and was second in a stage of the Vuelta a España (2015).

“We hope he will be a good domestique, who will assist Fabio Aru in the mountains and also able to catch up personally and maybe win some races, for example, in the Basque Country, in his homeland. He is young and active; we were observing him for a long time and decided to sign a contract with him for one year,” Alexander Vinokourov, General Team Manager, continued.

Zhandos Bizhigitov is a 25-year-old Kazak rider who represented Vino 4-ever SKO Continental Team for the last two years. This season he scored a victory in astage of the Tour of Korea, and was second at the Tour of Thailand and third at the Tour of Bulgaria. In 2015, he also stood at the podium of the Black Sea Tour, where he took second place in the general classification and won the King of the Mountains jersey. In 2015, he was vice-champion of Asia in the individual time trial. Since August 2016 he has competed as a trainee at Astana Pro Team.

“We have signed a contract with Bizhigitov for two years – the rider is quite mature and ready to become a professional. I think, it’s a good platform for his development, and extra motivation to stay in our team, where he did a number of races as a trainee and gained a good reputation at the autumn races in Italy. He raced with break-off; it is evident that the rider is eager to achieve results. A few days ago, we all watched his race at the Tour of Almaty, where he raced in a breakaway with Alexey Lutsenko; he was a little cold in the end, but still tried! It is a pity he didn’t finish the second, he deserved this second place,” the general manager of Astana added.

Sergey Chernetskiy is a 26-year-old rider from Russia and the winner of the overall standings and stage of the Tour des Fjords (2013) and a stage winner at the Volta a Catalunya (2015). In addition, he stood on the podium of G.P. Camaiore (2012) and the Tour of Almaty (2014).

“Chernetskiy is a Russian rider, well-proven in the mountains. I think he is a good rider, who can reach good level with us, like Kangert. I hope he will be a good helper for Fabio Aru in the mountains, and he also feels good in the team time trial,” Vinokourov summarized.