Team Astana Announces 2008 Vuelta a Espana Line-Up

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08/25/2008| 0 comments
by Thomas Valentinsen
Andreas Klöden (Team Astana).
Andreas Klöden (Team Astana).

Team Astana Announces 2008 Vuelta a Espana Line-Up

Contador and Leipheimer look set to go for the overall win.

Contador and Leipheimer look set to go for the overall win.

Astana cycling team General Manager Johan Bruyneel and Sports Director Alain Gallopin earlier today announced the names of the nine riders who will participate in the 2008 Vuelta a Espana / Tour of Spain, starting this Saturday, August 30th, in Granada, Spain.
 
The nine riders are Alberto Contador, Levi Leipheimer, Andreas Klöden, Assan Bazayev, Dmitriy Muravyev,  Benjamín Noval, Sérgio Paulinho, José Luis Rubiera and Tomas Vaitkus. Daniel Navarro is the team's backup in case they need to swap riders because of injury or illness.

The team will be lead by team directors Alain Gallopin and Viatcheslav Ekimov with Johan Bruyneel certainly contributing from the sideline if needed.

Team leader and 2007 Tour de France and 2008 Giro d'Italia winner Alberto Contador finds himself to be completely ready for the 2008 Vuelta and highligts the strength of the Astana Team by nominating teammate Levi Leipheimer to be one of his major competitors for the overall title. “I have been focused on this race for a number of months. I’ve spent time with the rest of the team and I feel that we are prepared and motivated for the next three weeks.  I am better prepared than I was for the Tour of Italy. Mentally, but technically as well. Right now we’re not looking too far ahead, but our goal is to win another Grand Tour. Our sponsors have supported us throughout the entire season and I can’t think of a better way to thank them.”

“Since early in the season, we identified the Tour of Spain as a major Team goal.  We’ve had an excellent season to date and our riders are extremely motivated to end in winning fashion.  I think we’ve assembled a well-balanced team that can accomplish our final major goal of 2008.  We have riders for the mountains and flat stages, as well as the experience of super champions like Alberto Contador, Andreas Klöden and Levi Leipheimer.” commented Johan Bruyneel.

According to the team management it was very hard for the team to pick the nine riders to represent Team Astana in Spain. “It was not an easy choice, which really shows the strength of our team. We have a lot of talented riders on Team Astana, but Johan and I decided that certain intangibles, such as experience, were very important.  This group knows what it takes to win the big races and I’m hopeful we can prove this in the next three weeks.” said Alain Gallopin.

The 2008 Tour of Spain will mark the end of a great Grand Tour career for veteran rider José Luis "Chechu" Rubiera who was a major help for Lance Arstrong in his many impressive quests for Tour de France success. Chechu told Roadcycling.com that “This will be my 20th and last Grand Tour. I am very grateful to all the riders, staff, sports directors and fans who have supported me throughout my entire career.  It is a true honor to have had the opportunity to race for Johan, Lance and now

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