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Luis Leon Sanchez wins Prueba Villafranca in Ordizia – Astana

Luis Leon Sanchez wins Prueba Villafranca in Ordizia

Luis Leon Sanchez won the 98th edition of the one-day race Prueba Villafranca – Ordiziako Klasika, taking it in a sprint from a small leading group ahead of Juan Ayuso and Roger Adria, while Oscar Rodriguez finished 6th in the same group.

“Well, I came here after a good break and I used it quite well to take a good rest both physically and mentally, spending some precious time with my family. Coming to the first race after a break is always a bit strange because you never know where you are compared to your rivals, even if you know that you worked hard at home. Anyway, I was motivated to fight for a win here and at the end of the day everything worked out pretty well. My teammates did an excellent job for me and in the final I was able to follow Oscar Rodriguez in a leading group. We worked well there, and this attack turned out with a nice victory for me. I am really happy with this success, and it really motivates me for the second half of the season”, – said Luis Leon Sanchez.

Oscar Rodriguez made a powerful attack on the final climb of the day Alto de Abaltzisketa in Larraitz (3.1 km, 7.3%), setting the new record of 6’00” on the climb. The attack of Rodriguez split the peloton in parts, while just five riders were able to follow him at the top of the climb and later on the descent to the finish line with Luis Leon Sanchez among them.

Despite the peloton always staying close, trying to catch the leaders back, the group of Sanchez and Rodriguez was able to hold the gap all the way to the finish in Ordizia. Oscar Rodriguez made a strong lead-out for Luis Leon Sanchez, moving him in a good position for the final sprint and Sanchez smashed it, taking his maiden victory of the 2021 season.

“We started this race with a clear leader Luis Leon Sanchez because we knew he was in very good form at the start of the second half of the season and he was really motivated to try to win this race. Seven years ago he was second in this race and we knew he wanted to win here one day. Before the start, Luis Leon said he was ready to try something today, so we decided to do this race for him All the team did a great job today already from the start, trying to keep it under control. At the end of the day, we saw a good opportunity on the last climb with Luis Leon Sanchez and Oscar Rodriguez both making a nice move into the lead. Well, it is a nice start of the second half of the season for us. We have missed some good opportunities in the first half so I hope we can get something good in the next weeks and months”, – said Giuseppe Martinelli, Sports Director of Astana – Premier Tech.

Today’s success of Luis Leon Sanchez is tenth win for Astana – Premier Tech in 2021.

Prueba Villafranca – Ordiziako Klasika, Ordizia – Ordizia, 165.7 km.

Top-3: 1. Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana – Premier Tech); 2. Juan Ayuso (UAE-Team Emirates); 3. Roger Adria (Equipo Kern Pharma)… 6. Oscar Rodriguez (Astana – Premier Tech).

Photo credit: @Photo Gomez Sport

— Vitalii to www.astanapremiertech.com

Alexey Lutsenko secures career-best seventh place at Tour de France – Astana

Alexey Lutsenko secures career-best seventh place at Tour de France

Alexey Lutsenko crossed the line on the Champs-Élysées to ride to a career-best seventh place in the General Classification to secure his first top ten result in six Tour de France participations. 

Lutsenko’s impressive performance makes the 2020 Tour de France stage winner the first Kazakh rider to secure a top ten result at the Tour de France since 2005.

“I am really happy and proud to finish in the top ten at the Tour de France. I came into the race after a good Critérium du Dauphiné and wanted to take things day by day to see what I could do. To finish in seventh place is a big achievement for me, especially as a Kazakh rider. I want to thank all of my teammates as they supported me a lot throughout the race and helped me to fight to be in the top ten”, – said Alexey Lutsenko after the finish of Stage 21.

“It was a really hard Tour de France which makes it even more special to finish in the top ten. Of course, it would have been nice to win a stage again, but I can come away from the race happy with my performance and my form and motivated for Tokyo”.

Astana – Premier Tech Managing Director Yana Seel highlighted the importance of Lutsenko’s achievement for the Kazakh – Canadian team.

“It makes me really proud to see Alexey Lutsenko’s name in the top ten of the Tour de France. Proud for Alexey, proud for Astana – Premier Tech and proud for Kazakhstan. Alexey didn’t give up throughout the three weeks and his result really shows his determination in what was a tough race. As a Kazakh – Canadian team, it is really important to support our Kazakh riders and I think Alexey’s result will inspire our young Kazakh riders”, – added Seel. 

The team narrowly missed a stage win on multiple occasions with eight top ten results throughout the three weeks while supporting Lutsenko’s General Classification bid. Team Performance Manager and Sports Director Dmitriy Fofonov praised the riders’ teamwork and aggressive approach to stage hunting. 

“I am really satisfied with the team’s racing here at the Tour de France. We came here with the objective of winning a stage and having someone in the top ten of the General Classification. With Alexey Lutsenko in the top ten, we achieved one of these and we came very close to the other. We saw a super Alexey in the race with great form and motivation, so I am happy to see his hard work pay off. All of the team raced aggressively in the breakaways, and we had Ion Izagirre coming very close to the win on stage 8 and our Spanish Champion Omar Fraile up there on multiple occasions. We had a good spirit in the team and all of the riders did a great job to support Alexey and help him to achieve his GC result. As you can see, many teams are leaving without a stage win, but we can be happy knowing we did our maximum every day and were able to finish with Alexey in seventh place overall”, – said Fofonov.

General Classification: 1. Tadej Pogacar (UAE-Team Emirates); 2. Jonas Vingegaard (Team Jumbo-Visma); 3. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers)… 7. Alexey Lutsenko (Astana – Premier Tech).

Photo credit: @Chris Auld

— Phoebe Haymes to www.astanapremiertech.com

Crunching the numbers from a colder than usual Tour de France – Astana

Crunching the numbers from a colder than usual Tour de France

The 2021 Tour de France has been an unusual one. Despite returning to its usual July position in the season, we haven’t seen the typical scorching summer days that we’ve used to. Cold and rainy days have plagued the Tour this year making it one of the hardest editions we’ve seen in a long time. Just ask the riders. 

This season, we’re thinking about temperatures more than ever as we hit the six month mark of our partnership with CORE Body Temperature.

“We have been using the CORE sensors for a few months now so it is a like a power meter that we are still learning a lot from because it’s quite new. Until this year, we have never had this kind of data so it’s totally new for us. Now, we are trying to learn how to best use the data which could be for warming up and cooling down protocols, and to see the impact that temperatures has on performance in races and training,” said Ivan Velasco, Astana – Premier Tech Team Technical Manager.

When you take a look through the galleries from every Tour de France stage, one thing stands out. There was plenty of suffering going on. Suffering made worse by the cold temperatures and never ending rain. Velasco acknowledges the impact the unusual temperatures had on the riders’ CORE data readings.

“For sure this Tour de France has been cooler than normal. In a normal Tour de France, most days you have temperatures of 25 to 35 degrees Celsius and this has an impact on the riders’ performance. As soon as you go up with the temperature, the body reacts and your performance is suffering. With the CORE sensor, we can see that the internal temperature of the riders has not been as high as it has been throughout summer, for example in comparison to the data we have from Criterium du Dauphine or other warmer races this year. So we are definitely identifying the relationship between the external temperatures and the impact on the internal body temperature, and how that has had an affect on our riders’ performances whether that be positive or negative depending on the conditions”

As Velasco explains, his job is to take this data and identify the situations where core body temperature can be critical to performance.

“When it comes to the mountain stages this is when the riders are going at their maximum effort and really suffering so the CORE data is really valuable. Also, for the time trials we can identify areas of improvement in this maximum effort. They go really, really deep in the effort so with CORE we can have an insight into how the body is reacting to this effort and quantify this data, while taking into account different external factors like external temperature and humidity. So in this way, we are using this year as a learning exercise and when we really understand the best way to use the data, especially in conjunction with all of the other numbers we see, we will really benefit from this new piece of the puzzle. Each rider reacts differently. You have some riders who can push themselves more than others in the hot weather or the cold weather and now we can see how that correlates with the internal body temperature readings.”

The Tour de France may have been cooler than usual but the Vuelta a España will no doubt deliver the usual scorching summer days which Velasco says will be a valuable race when it comes to understanding the CORE body temperature readings.

“We know we will always have some really hot days at the Vuelta a España and as we will have some of our Giro d’Italia and Tour de France riders doing their second Grand Tour of the season, we will have a chance to really compare the data from both races and see the difference in the CORE data readings.”

Bring on the sun at the Vuelta!

 

Main photo: Michiel van der Meer

— Phoebe Haymes to www.astanapremiertech.com

Alex Aranburu secures another top ten result in his first Tour de France participation – Astana

Alex Aranburu secures another top ten result in his first Tour de France participation

Alex Aranburu sprinted to another sixth place in his first Tour de France journey as part of the chase group behind the day’s solo winner.

After the final rest day, the race continued its journey and left Andorra to return to France with 169 demanding kilometres in Saint-Gaudens for the first of three days in the Pyrenées.

The start included a downhill section which was neutralized to give the riders the chance to change their clothes due to the cold temperatures. As the race re-started, attacks were flying from all directions with a fierce battle to make the breakaway playing out. The young Basque rider Alex Aranburu was attentive and chased the leaders at the front, alongside teammate Omar Fraile, who was quite active at the beginning of the first climbs.

At the foot of the second to last climb of the race, the Col de Portet d´Aspet, Aranburu was part of a chase group around 20 seconds down on the leading trio. At this moment, eventual stage winner Patrick Konrad went clear and opened up a gap over his opponents while behind, Aranburu dug deep in the third chasing group.

After a long and rainy day in the saddle, the Itzulia Basque Country stage winner crossed the line in sixth place, his second top ten result in his Tour de France debut. Teammate Alexey Lutsenko came home together with the yellow jersey, which sees no change on the overall ranking with Lutsenko remaining in seventh place overall.

“It was very fast from the beginning of the stage so it was very difficult for me to get into the breakaway. We all tried a lot and, in the end, I managed to get into the right move. By the end, I didn’t have much strength left but we had the stage victory to fight for. Konrad from Bora – hansgrohe got away so we were chasing behind and then in the sprint, I did what I could. In theory, it suited me. I feel like I have come a long way at the race. It has been a very, very hard Tour de France but day by day I am getting there and learning things and fighting every day”, said Aranburu.

 

Race Profile 

Tour de France 

Stage 16: El Pas de la Casa Saint-Gaudens (169km)

Top 3: Patrick Konrad (Bora-hansgrohe); 2. Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Victorious), 3. Michael Matthews (Bike-Exchange)

Astana – Premier Tech Top 3: 6. Alex Aranburu, 15. Alexey Lutsenko 60. Hugo Houle

 

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— nadine Pfeffer to www.astanapremiertech.com

Astana – Premier Tech focuses on final Pyrenees stages at the Tour de France – Astana

Astana – Premier Tech focuses on final Pyrenees stages at the Tour de France

With just six stages remaining at the Tour de France, Astana – Premier Tech’s riders are eyeing the upcoming Pyrenean mountain stages as the last opportunity for a stage win at the Grand Boucle.

The Kazakh – Canadian team has been present multiple times in several breakaways, with Hugo Houle winning the combative prize on stage ten and Ion Izagirre narrowly missing the stage win on stage eight. The hunt for a stage win continues after the second rest day while the team also looks to support Alexey Lutsenko in the General Classification.

 

Lutsenko is satisfied with his race so far and is hoping to remain in the General Classification battle in the final week of the race.

“I am sitting currently in seventh place on the overall ranking, which makes me really happy. I came here to get in top shape before the Olympics and wanted to try to repeat a stage win, which I still want to, but I also kept an eye on the overall ranking. To finish the biggest and most known cycling race in the top ten overall would be amazing. So, I will try in the upcoming days to again be in the mix with the other GC contenders for the final mountain stages and then of course, the stage 20 time trial.” – Alexey Lutsenko

Jakob Fuglsang is looking to use the final week to fine tune his shape ahead of Tokyo.

 “It has been two tough weeks of racing so far. As mentioned in the previous days, I had my second covid vaccine ahead of the Tour de France, which I was really happy to do. But I think I reacted to the second one to an extent, especially going straight to a Grand Tour where you push your body every single day to the limit. It is not that I feel unwell but of course doing professional sport, especially a sport as demanding as the Tour de France, means you can react differently. I hope to reach my top form in the upcoming days and keep pushing myself to the limit and to finish this year’s Tour de France with a good result. We have some good opportunities in the next days in the Pyrenées so we will look to race as aggressively as possible. I then head to Tokyo on Monday for the Olympics, where I still have the goal of turning Rio’s silver into Tokyo’s gold.” – Jakob Fuglsang

 

©Gettysport

— nadine Pfeffer to www.astanapremiertech.com

Ion Izagirre dug deep on the first Pyrenees stage to take yet another top result on the brutal Tour de France stage 15 – Astana

Ion Izagirre dug deep on the first Pyrenees stage to take yet another top result on the brutal Tour de France stage 15

Basque rider Ion Izagirre showed great form yet again by riding at the front of the race on the first Pyrenees day to take a great fourth place after 191 brutal kilometres, to miss the podium by just centimetres.

 

The last stage before the rest day and final week of the Tour de France delivered a big mountain stage, featuring the highest peak in this year’s edition, the Port d’Envalira at 2408 metres.

From the drop of the flag, the peloton fought to create a breakaway with Ion Izagirre amongst the attacking riders. After some kilometres of racing a large group consisting of 30 riders pulled away, with Izagirre representing the Kazakh-Canadian team.

The breakaway, which featured many stronger climbers, opened up an ample gap of more than eight minutes over the peloton on their way to the Pyrenees in Andorra. Meanwhile, Izagirre’s teammate Alexey Lutsenko found himself next to the yellow jersey and rode yet another amazing race to defend his place on the overall ranking.

Tackling the penultimate ascent of the race, the highest point in this year’s edition, the 10.8 kilometre long and 5.8% in average steep climb, saw the race come alive. Several attacks were launched and Ion Izagirre was able to hold the pace until later stage winner Sepp Kuss made his decisive move. The Basque rider stayed in one of the chasing groups near the soloist at the front, while Alexey Lutsenko was limit his time loss.

The last climb of the day before the descent towards the finish line in Andorra la Vella, saw a battle between youth and experience, as Sepp Kuss was able to hold off former World Champion Alejandro Valverde to take the stage win, while Ion Izagirre missed out the podium by centimetres in the sprint from the chasing group.

Five minutes later Alexey Lutsenko crossed the line among the other top ten GC riders and moved up to seventh place on the overall ranking ahead of the final week of the Tour de France.

We knew today’s stage would be a hard and long day, especially as we are already stage 15 of the Tour de France. We decided that I would go in the breakaway, which wasn’t easy at all to get into but I managed it and was in the big break. We followed the Groupama FDJ pace, as they had quite a good pace with the whole team, as they rode for Gaudu. On the second to last climb, there were some attacks and I tried to follow but on the last climb, the race lit up and the fight for the stage win started. I tried to give my best, but I couldn’t do more in the end and took fourth place. I am still happy with my place and performance, of course we wanted to do better but we will look forward to the final week and try again to finally take a stage win., says Ion Izagirre

 

 

Race Profile

Tour de France

Stage 15: Céret > Andorra la Vella (191.3km)

Top 3: Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma); 2.Alejandro Valverde (Team Movistar); 3.Wout Poels (Bahrain-Victorious)

Astana – Premier Tech Top 3: 4. Ion Izagirre; 27. Alexey Lutsenko; 55. Jakob Fuglsang

 

©GettySport

— nadine Pfeffer to www.astanapremiertech.com

Omar Fraile on the attack on Tour de France stage 14 – Astana

Omar Fraile on the attack on Tour de France stage 14

Omar Fraile went on the attack on Tour de France stage 14, finishing it off with another top 10 result for the Kazakh-Canadian team, crossing the line in sixth place.

After yesterday’s flat stage, today’s stage offered five climbs on the 183-kilometre course from yesterday’s finish town, Carcassonne to Quillan, where another showdown was expected.

Like in the previous days, the nervous start phase saw several attacks out of the peloton, trying to form a breakaway. Jakob Fuglsang and Omar Fraile launched attacks as the race tackled the Col De Montségur, around 95 kilometres from the finish.

After constant attacking, the Basque rider and Spanish champion Omar Fraile made it into the breakaway of the day. The big group of 14 riders opened up a gap of more than five  minutes on the peloton.

On the descent of the penultimate ascent of the day, Bauke Mollema launched an attack, which turned out to be the winning move, while Fraile found himself in the chase group behind.

Fraile showed fighting spirit tackling the final climb of the day in the second chasing group, while Mollema held on to take the solo win.

The Basque and Spanish Champion finished today’s demanding stage in a solid sixth place, another top ten result for the Kazakh- Canadian team.

Teammate Alexey Lutsenko crossed the line in the peloton, and moved into eighth place on the overall ranking.

 

“It was a big battle for the breakaway today, we really spent a lot of time trying to make a move stick. I spent a lot of energy to get into it because we knew this was a good day for a breakaway. The team had this stage marked as one for us so I was really motivated to go away. The group was really strong and when you look at the guys in there, you see that they are all guys who are often working for a leader so when you get your own chance, you’re always motivated even more. Of course I wanted to win and I gave everything I had. I came here to win a stage but now we’re going into the final week and there are not many opportunities left for me I don’t think. But we are really motivated to help Lutsenko as much as possible. I think he’s really strong and in better shape now than he was in the Alpes.”, says Omar Fraile

 

Race Profile

Tour de France 

Stage 14: Carcassonne > Quillan (183km)

Top 3: 1. Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), 2. Patrick Konrad (Bora-hansgrohe), 3.Sergio Higuita (EF Education Nippo)

Astana – Premier Tech Top3: 6. Omar Fraile, 38. Ion Izagirre, 42. Alexey Lutsenko

 

©GettySport 

— nadine Pfeffer to www.astanapremiertech.com

Alex Aranburu sprints to a great sixth place on demanding Tour de France stage 13 – Astana

Alex Aranburu sprints to a great sixth place on demanding Tour de France stage 13

After 220 kilometres in the saddle, the race headed towards the finish line in Carcassonne with Alex Aranburu sprinting to a strong sixth place.

 

The 13th stage of the Tour de France was another long and demanding stage, with almost 220 kilometres on an undulating terrain awaiting the riders. The second part of the stage was marked by cross and tailwinds on narrow roads, which made today’s stage quite nervous.

After a long battle for the daily breakaway, three riders managed to distance themselves but the peloton kept the escapees on a short leash. Astana – Premier Tech was tucked in the bunch, protecting Alex Aranburu to bring him into position for the finale.

As the peloton caught the breakaway, several crashes caused again with favorites leaving the race. Unfortunately, Dmitriy Gruzdev was involved in one of the crashes. Fortunately he was able to finish the stage but suffered some road rash and abrasions.

He will be assessed by our medical team overnight and the decision if he can continue the race will be taken tomorrow.

Meanwhile the sprint teams started to form their lead out with Omar Fraile and Alexey Lutsenko also lining things out for Alex Aranburu. The team delivered the young Basque rider into a good position rolling towards the tricky final part of today’s stage. In a thrilling finale, Aranburu sprinted to a strong sixth place, while Mark Cavendish made history claiming his 34th stage win.

“It was a hard race. We had 220 km and there was a lot of wind and a lot of tension. In the end, because there were echelons, there were attacks. We had to be a bit attentive there. Well, in the end, nothing really happened but we were up there. I had Lutsenko and Omar helping me in the sprint but I lost the wheel and then I tried and came back. But, well, sixth is not bad”, says Alex Aranburu.

 

Race Profile

Tour de France

Stage 13: Nîmes > Carcassonne (219.9km)

Top 3: 1.Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck – Quick Step), 2.Michael Morkov (Deceuninck – Quick Step) 3. Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix)

Astana – Premier Tech Top 3: 6. Alex Aranburu, 32. Alexey Lutsenko 84. Omar Fraile

 

©Gettysport

— nadine Pfeffer to www.astanapremiertech.com

Alexey Lutsenko takes a strong eighth place on Mont Ventoux stage – Astana

Alexey Lutsenko takes a strong eighth place on Mont Ventoux stage

The epic Mont Ventoux was on today´s menu for the eleventh stage of the Tour de France with Alexey Lutsenko showing his form with an impressive eighth place.

With one ascent of the iconic climb already brutal enough, the peloton faced it twice before descending towards the finish line in Malaucéne after 198.9 kilometres.

It was, as expected, a fight for the daily breakaway as soon as the flag dropped and some kilometres after leaving the start town Sorgues, the favourites for the stage win went on the attack. Astana – Premier Tech had several cards to play but also kept an eye on the overall ranking with Lutsenko.

Jakob Fuglsang was the first rider of the Kazakh – Canadian team to try his luck in an early breakaway but the group got caught ahead of the second climb of the day. After a long battle and countless moves brought back, a group was finally able to open a gap on the peloton.

Lutsenko, Fuglsang and Ion Izagirre stayed in the yellow jersey group, which was some minutes behind the leading group.

Approaching the first ascent of Mont Ventoux, Fuglsang and Izagirre had to let the group go and rode home in their own rhythm, crossing the line around 15 minutes down on eventual stage winner Wout Van Aert.

On the final lap up Mont Ventoux, Lutsenko trailed the solo leader by two minutes but dug deep all the way to the line. The Kazakh rider put in a strong ride, pushing on the descent towards the finish line, which saw him cross the line in a strong eighth place. After this great ride, Lutsenko moved up to seventh place on the General Classification.

It was a brutal stage today. Due to the overall ranking, I tried to stay as long as possible on the wheels of Pogacar, not to lose any time in the GC, and it worked quite well. On the top of Mont Ventoux after the second time, I found myself with Kelderman and the chase was on. I am happy with my 8th place and also that I could move up again one place on the overall ranking. Of course, the Tour is still long with some tricky and tough stages but so far I am satisfied with my performance. – Alexey Lutsenko

 

Race Profile

Tour de France

Stage 11: Sorgues > Malaucéne (198km)

Top 3: 1.Wout Van Aert (Team Jumbo Visma), 2. Kenny Elissonde 3. Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo)

Astana – Premier Tech Top 3: 8. Alexey Lutsenko, 37 Jakob Fuglsang, 53 Hugo Houle

 

©Gettysport

— nadine Pfeffer to www.astanapremiertech.com

Hugo Houle crowned most combative on Tour de France stage 10 – Astana

Hugo Houle crowned most combative on Tour de France stage 10

Hugo Houle claimed the combativity prize stage 10 of the Tour de France after being at the front for more than 150km in the day’s breakaway.

After a well-deserved rest day, the peloton returned to racing with an almost 200km stage rolling from Albertville to Valence.

Right after the start, Astana – Premier Tech rider Hugo Houle launched an attack and pulled away with another rider to open up a gap of several minutes.

The leading duo worked well together and was able to stay away for more than 150 kilometres before the sprint trains increased the pace to close the gap.

Houle’s aggressive riding was rewarded with the combativity award and the Canadian will wear the red number on stage 11.

“I came to the Tour de France with the goal of winning a stage in honor of my brother. With today´s combativity prize, I think that goal came already a little bit closer, at least I stepped onto the Tour de France podium. As I pulled away I thought maybe some more riders would join, but well, once you are gone, you are gone and then you just push. We got caught quite quickly, with the crosswind at the end of the stage it was easy for the bunch to close the gap, but with two guys there is not much to do against it. However, being at the front of the race, especially at the Tour de France, is something special and to get awarded with the combativity prize was worth it all,” said Houle.

As the race headed towards Valence, the bunch faced crosswinds and with the gap dropping steadily Hugo Houle and his breakaway companion were caught with 40 kilometres to go.

At this point, teammate Omar Fraile took over the lead of the peloton, bringing Alexey Lutsenko and Alex Aranburu into position for a possible reduced bunch sprint.

After almost 200 kilometres, the 10th stage of the Tour de France ended in another bunch sprint, taken by Mark Cavendish.

All Astana – Premier Tech riders crossed the line safely with no changes to the overall ranking.

Race Profile

Tour de France

Stage 10: Albertville > Valence (190.7km)

Top 3: 1. Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck – Quick Step), 2. Wout Van Art (Jumbo Visma), 3. Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin Fenix)

Astana – Premier Tech top 3: 39. Alexey Lutsenko, 121. Alex Aranburu, 123. Hugo Houle

Photo: Getty Images

— Phoebe Haymes to www.astanapremiertech.com