Alexey Lutsenko impresses with maiden Criterium du Dauphine podium – Astana

Alexey Lutsenko impresses with maiden Criterium du Dauphine podium

Alexey Lutsenko battled to successfully defend his podium place at the Criterium du Dauphine on a brutal day in the mountains, finishing second overall to secure his first WorldTour podium this year.

The Kazakh champion and stage four time trial winner finished 17 seconds behind winner Richie Porte while Ion Izagirre, after a brilliant display of teamwork, finished in seventh place, 38 seconds behind.

“I am really happy to be on the podium. To finish second overall and win a stage is a really good result for me so I can be happy. As I said yesterday, there are a lot of big champions here at the race so to be on the podium with two of them; Richie Porte and Geraint Thomas is something special. The team did great work all week and I really have to thank them, especially Ion in the last two days as he helped me a lot to stay on the podium. Today was a really hard stage and it was a big fight until the end so I am really happy that I could stay up there and finish it off today. Now I will rest and recover and then it’s all in for the Tour de France,” said Lutsenko.

Mark Padun took a second consecutive stage win while behind, the General Classification battle played out on the sixth and final climb and descent, where Izagirre and Lutsenko showed their descending skills to gap Porte. After coming back together at the bottom of the descent, the Astana – Premier Tech duo didn’t give up and attacked multiple times on the uncategorized climb to the finish line in Les Gets.

In the end, the group finished together and Lutsenko and Izagirre maintained their GC positions after the mountainous stage, which featured almost 4000 meters of elevation.

Izagirre takes confidence from his performance as he fine tunes his preparation for the Tour de France.

“In the end I think we can be happy with the work done by all of us, really. There are a lot of positives to take away from the race. We won a stage with Lutsenko, we finished other stages with second place and third place with me and Alex. The team worked well and in the end we finished it off with the podium with Lutsenko. So we can leave this race happy and look forward to the Tour,” said Izagirre.

Team Performance Manager echoed Izagirre’s sentiments, praising the team’s work throughout the race which included Aranburu sprinting to four top ten results.

“The team raced really well all week and they can be proud of their performance. We showed we were some of the strongest in the race so we can be happy finishing with a stage win, and first and second on the time trial, and then second overall with Alexey. It was not an easy race, especially these last days. We fought as hard as we could until the end and the team did their maximum. Ion Izagirre showed he is in great form and did amazing work for Alexey, ” added Fofonov.

Race Profile
Criterium du Dauphine
Stage 8: La Léchère-Les-Bains > Les Gets (147km)
Top 3: 1. Mark Padun (Bahrain – Victorious), 2. Jonas Vingegaard (Team Jumbo-Visma), 3. Patrick Konrad (BORA – hansgrohe)
Astana – Premier Tech top 3: 7. Alexey Lutsenko, 13. Ion Izagirre, 34. Oscar Rodriguez
Top 3 on GC: 1. Richie Porte (INEOS Grenadiers), 2. Alexey Lutsenko (Astana – Premier Tech), 3. Geraint Thomas (INEOS Grenadiers)
Astana – Premier Tech top 3 on GC: 2. Alexey Lutsenko, 7. Ion Izagirre, 50. Oscar Rodriguez

Photo: Getty Images

— Phoebe Haymes to www.astanapremiertech.com

Lutsenko battles to stay on the podium at Criterium du Dauphine – Astana

Lutsenko battles to stay on the podium at Criterium du Dauphine

A gutsy ride from Alexey Lutsenko on Criterium du Dauphine stage seven saw the race leader fight hard to keep his yellow jersey, crossing the line in tenth place to move into second on the General Classification.

After a brilliant display of teamwork on the summit finish to La Plagne, Ion Izagirre sits in seventh overall with the race still wide open with one stage remaining.

“Today was a really hard mountain stage. The team did amazing work today and especially Ion did great work for me in the last 10 kilometres. When I look around and see all of the big GC riders who are here, big champions like Thomas and Porte, I know how hard it is. I gave everything I could today and in the end, just missed 20 or so seconds. Tomorrow is the last stage and I will give my maximum for the GC. To finish on the podium would be a great result for me and for the team so I will do everything I can. But I am happy with the way I have raced here so far. My legs are good and it’s a good sign ahead of the Tour de France,” said Lutsenko.

With four climbs on the menu, it was a battle to make the breakaway with attack after attack pulled back as the peloton set a blistering pace until a group finally managed to get away after 70 kilometres of racing.

Lutsenko and Izagirre’s teammates took responsibility for the chase with the blue train lined out at the front of the bunch on the early climbs. The breakaway started to fracture in the last 50 kilometres and at the base of the 17-kilometre final climb, the General Classification group was less than two minutes behind.

The key attacks came from the GC group inside the final eight kilometres when four riders made a move on the steep ascent. Lutsenko responded to various counter attacks and Izagirre dug deep to pace the chase group behind and limit time loss as much as possible.

In the end, it was Mark Padun who claimed the stage while Richie Porte’s attack saw the Australian move into the race lead. Lutsenko battled to the line, finishing 26 seconds after Porte, to move into second overall with 17 seconds separating the two ahead of the eighth and final stage.

After working hard on the climb, Izagirre was able to fight back to finish just 13 seconds behind Lutsenko which sees him trail Porte by 38 seconds overall.

Stage 8 sees the peloton tackle six categorized climbs before an uphill finish in Les Gets to crown the winner of the Criterium du Dauphine.

Race Profile

Criterium du Dauphine

Stage 7: Saint-Martin-Le-Vinoux > La Plagne (171.1km)

Top 3: 1. Mark Padun (Bahrain Victorious), 2. Richie Porte (INEOS Grenadiers), 3. MigUel Angel Lopez (Movistar Team)

Astana – Premier Tech top 3: 10. Alexey Lutsenko, 16. Ion Izagirre, 66. Oscar Rodriguez

— Phoebe Haymes to www.astanapremiertech.com

Lutsenko climbs into the race lead on Critérium du Dauphiné stage 6 – Astana

Lutsenko climbs into the race lead on Critérium du Dauphiné stage 6

Alexey Lutsenko returned to the podium on stage six with the yellow jersey on his shoulders as the new race leader after an impressive performance in the mountains.

After flying to the time trial win on stage four, Lutsenko started the day one second off the race lead and dug deep on the category three summit finish to cross the line in seventh place and inherit the race lead.

“For me, this is really special. Today was a really hard stage but we fought for the yellow jersey. I’m really happy to take the yellow jersey as that was the goal today. Today was hard for everybody, not just for me. I didn’t have a plan to attack, my plan was to follow and take the wheels of Movistar and Ineos. In the last kilometres, I was following Valverde’s wheel but I wasn’t able to stay with him,” said Lutsenko.

“Day by day, I am feeling good but the most important thing before tomorrow is recovery and seeing how the lags are tomorrow on the climbs. I have worked a lot so far and tomorrow is another hard day. The climbs are longer but I will fight to keep the yellow jersey and we also have Ion Izagirre just behind me so we have good cards to play.”

Lutsenko was joined in the front group by Ion Izagirre who moves into second place overall, eight seconds behind Lutsenko, after a brilliant day of teamwork from Alex Aranburu, Dmitry Gruzdev, Yuriy Natarov and Oscar Rodgriguez.

“It was a good day for us and we worked hard to set things up in the finale as it was a good finish for Alexey. In the last five kilometres there were some good attacks but finally we arrived all together, about 25 of us. In the sprint I am not so fast so I just tried to stay up there and not lose any time. Tomorrow will be another hard stage especially in the beginning as it will not be easy to control. There are some guys not so far away in the GC who may try to go in the breakaway so we have to be ready for anything. And then in the last climb, you have to give everything you have. My legs are good and I’m feeling good after the altitude block so I’m happy with how things are going,” said Izagirre.

After a battle for the breakaway that played out for more than one hour, 14 riders eventually went clear but the peloton kept their advantage under three minutes in anticipation of the four categorized climbs in the final 50 kilometres.

The breakaway’s advantage quickly came down as various teams took up the chase, including a strong effort from Astana – Premier Tech approaching the final 25 kilometres.

With the last of the attackers caught, the General Classification riders began to pick up the pace on the final three kilometre-climb to the line. But it was an attack from Alejandro Valverde that went unmatched and saw the Spaniard take the stage win while Lutsenko followed close behind in seventh place and Izagirre in 15th.

Lutsenko carries the race lead into a big weekend of racing in the mountains, including the summit finish on La Plagne on stage 7.

Race Profile

Critérium du Dauphiné

Stage 6: Loriol-sur-Drome > Le Sappey-en-Chartreuse

Top 3: 1. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team), 2. Tao Geaghan Hart (INEOS Grenadiers), Patrick Konrad (Bora- hansgrohe)

Astana – Premier Tech top 3: 7. Alexey Lutsenko, 15. Ion Izagirre, 66. Yuriy Natarov

— Phoebe Haymes to www.astanapremiertech.com

Lutsenko blitzes Criterium du Dauphiné time trial to take stunning win – Astana

Lutsenko blitzes Criterium du Dauphiné time trial to take stunning win

Alexey Lutsenko blitzed the field in the Crtierium du Dauphiné stage 4 time trial to take an impressive win on a day when Astana – Premier Tech went one-two with Ion Izagirre taking second place.

Izagirre set a flying pace on the 16.4km course to cross the line in 21’44” and move into the hot seat for a few minutes before Lutsenko stopped the clock eight seconds faster.

The Kazakh time trial champion started well to set the provisional third fastest time at the intermediate checkpoint but it was in the second half of the 16.2km course when Lutsenko put the hammer down on his Wilier Turbine to leave everything on the road.

“I did the maximum today and I’m really happy to win the stage. It wasn’t a big surprise for me because I did a lot of work on my time trial bike at altitude camp in Teide just before the race and I had a lot of motivation from Dmitry Fofonov in the car behind. We did many, many hours of training on the TT bike in the camp and it has paid off,” said Lutsenko.

“This kind of course, 16 kilometres of up and down is perfect for me. In the first six kilometres I went a bit slower and saved some energy and then in the last six to seven kilometres I went full, full gas. In the final, I just did my absolute maximum, 200 percent. To be only one second off the yellow jersey is a bit disappointing but the Dauphiné isn’t finished and I will fight to get the yellow jersey. Maybe tomorrow, maybe the day after in the mountains.”

Lutsenko came nail-bitingly close to taking the yellow jersey, having started the say 24 seconds behind races leader Lukas Postlberger, and ended up  missing out on the yellow jersey by just one second.

Lutsenko and Izagirre’s strong performances come on the back of a two-week block at altitude in Tenerife as they look to prepare for the Tour de France, which has seemingly paid off for the Astana – Premier Tech duo after their dominant performances today.

“I did a good time trial in Paris-Nice but in the Basque Country and Tour de Romandie, I didn’t feel very good in the time trials. So, you never know what to expect because it is a speciality but now, I feel very good. The second part of the time trial was hilly and was the most important part. There you could make the difference. I’m really happy with my result today and for the team with Alexey’s win. To be the top two on the stage is a really good result and now we’ll look to continue our success in the second half of the race,” said Izagirre.

Alex Aranburu, who was third overall at the start of the day, crashed during his time trial in a day of mixed fortunes for the team but fortunately did not sustain any major injuries.

Race Profile

Critérium du Dauphiné

Stage 4 ITT: Firminy > Roche-La-Molière

Top 3: 1. Alexey Lutsenko, Ion Izagirre, Kasper Asgreen

Photo: Getty Images

— Phoebe Haymes to www.astanapremiertech.com

Alex Aranburu comes close to Critérium du Dauphiné stage win – Astana

Alex Aranburu comes close to Critérium du Dauphiné stage win

A nail-biting finish to Critérium du Dauphiné stage 3 saw Alex Aranburu sprint to second place on the uphill finish in Saint-Haon-Le-Vieux, after being caught with 100 metres to go by Sonny Colbrelli.

“The last kilometre was pretty crazy. It was pretty tough. We all went two by two from each team so it was not organized at all. I was going from one side to the other to try and catch some wheels. I saw I was a little ahead so I decided to start my sprint because in the first two stages I was closed in a bit in the sprints. When I saw the opportunity, I went for it but I came up a bit short in the last stretch,” said Aranburu.

After a relatively quiet stage, the last of the two breakaway riders were caught with 22 kilometres to go, as the peloton battled for positioning heading into the finale.

Aranburu was well positioned by his teammates as the fast pace saw splits in the bunch and despite sitting outside of the top 20 riders approaching the flamme rouge, Aranburu showed his skill to surf from wheel to wheel and move up inside the final kilometre.

With the finish line in sight, Aranburu launched his sprint with 250 metres to go and immediately had a gap but Colbrelli was able to jump on his wheel and with 100 metres to go, come around the Basque rider to take the win.

Aranburu’s second place is his third consecutive top ten result in the opening three stages and sees him sit in third place on the General Classification, 18 seconds behind race leader Lukas Pöstlberger.

“My legs are good though. After the altitude camp in Teide I had some doubts but the truth is I am feeling better day by day so I’m happy. Tomorrow we have the time trial, then we have some hard stages in the mountains and we have to be strong for the General Classification. I think we will have to work hard but we will see what happens with breakaways too,” added Aranburu.

Race Profile

Critérium du Dauphiné

Stage 3: Langeac > Saint-Haon-Le-Vieux (172.2km)

Top 3: 1. Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious), 2. Alex Aranburu (Astana – Premier Tech), 3. Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates)

Astana – Premier Tech top 3: 2. Alex Aranburu, 13. Ion Izagirre, 34. Alexey Lutsenko

Photo: Getty Sport

— Phoebe Haymes to www.astanapremiertech.com

Howson & Grmay make the front chasing group split on the final of stage two at Criterium du Dauphine – Team BikeExchange

Tour de Hongrie winner Damien Howson finished in a reduced chasing group on stage two of the Criterium du Dauphinetoday, as a solo breakaway rider stayed away for the second day in-a-row.

Five riders jumped away in the early kilometres, with the peloton allowing the escapees a maximum advantage of four minutes. The time gap eventually started to fall with around 50km to go, but with no concerted chase in the bunch, the gap remained at three minutes with 30km left to race.

Out front, Lukas Pöstlberger went solo from the breakaway while the peloton was thinning out over the remaining climbs behind. As the kilometres ticked down it was clear that the bunch had miscalculated the catch once again, with Pöstlberger holding on to win by 11 seconds while Howson rolled home in a reduced chase group alongside teammate Tsgabu Grmay.

Damien Howson
“It is pretty unusual racing, having the breakaway stay away on the first to days and especially as it was only one survivor but congrats to them. 

On the final climb, there was a bit of wind coming from the left and I think for Bahrain, it was a last attempt for them to try there to bring the breakaway back so with the wind and the pace, I think that is why it all split there.

I feel pretty good, I felt pretty comfortable in the select group at the finish, it was still a relatively sizeable group, but I think that was to be expected with a few of the sprinters that can climb where thinking they were in for a chance for a result today.

It was a hard day but the boys helped me all day so I could remain calm, and we look to tomorrow now.”

2021 Criterium du Dauphine stage 2 results:
1. Lukas Pöstlberger 4:25:20
2. Sonny Colbrelli +0:11
3. Alejandro Valverde ST
25. Damien Howson (Team BikeExchange) ST

2021 Criterium du Dauphine GC:
1. Lukas Pöstlberger 8:38:32
2. Sonny Colbrelli +0:12
3. Alejandro Valverde +0:20
26. Damien Howson (Team BikeExchange) +0:24

Photo courtesy of Getty Sport

— Team BikeExchange to www.greenedgecycling.com

Aperçu Critérium du Dauphiné – Hilaire Van der Schueren : “Durcir la course chaque jour”

Du 30 mai au 6 juin prochains, Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux se présentera pour la sixième fois consécutive au Critérium du Dauphiné(2.UWT). Articulée en huit étapes, cette 73ème édition s’ouvre par un parcours vallonné à travers l’Auvergne, autour de la localité d’Issoire. La deuxième étape rejoindra Saugues avec deux ascensions dans les 10 derniers kilomètres, dont le Col de la forêt de Pourcheresse (6.9 km à 6,5%). Les troisième et cinquième étapes seront sans doute les seules opportunités pour les sprinteurs de se départager, même si le final comporte une courte montée non loin de l’arrivée. Conformément à la tradition, les organisateurs ont intercalé un contre-la-montre individuel à la mi-course à l’occasion de la quatrième étape, long de 16,4 kilomètres. 

Les trois dernières étapes présentent un important dénivelé et chacune une arrivée au sommet. La première rejoint le Sappey-en-Chartreuse (3.3 km à 6,2%) après l’enchaînement du Col de la Placette, du Col de Porte et de la Côte de la Frette dans les 40 derniers kilomètres. La septième étape emprunte le Col du Pré (Hors Catégorie), puis le Cormet du Roseland, et l’arrivée se situe en haut de la station de ski de La Plagne (17.1 km à 7,5%). L’épreuve se clôture enfin par une étape de 143 kilomètres menant à la station des Gets, et comporte six ascensions, dont les mythiques Col de la Colombière et de Joux Plane. 

Les directeurs sportifs Hilaire Van der Schueren et Bart Wellens dirigeront la sélection de sept coureurs, où l’on retrouvera le Belge Jan Bakelants, vainqueur d’étape en 2014 à Poisy et deux fois parmi les 20 premiers du classement général. Le Sud-Africain Louis Meintjes, neuvième en 2016 et huitième en 2017, participe à la quatrième course d’une semaine de la saison. Jusqu’ici, il avait intégré le top 20 de l’UAE Tour et du Tour de Romandie, et fini 23ème de Paris-Nice. Particulièrement actif sur leurs dernières sorties, les Français Jérémy Bellicaud et Théo Delacroixprendront aussi le départ sur leur territoire national, avec une première apparition pour le second cité. Ce sera une première également pour les Belges Jasper De PlusKévin van Melsen, très en vue sur les courses d’un jour du mois de mai, et Loïc Vliegen, qui fera sa rentrée en compétition depuis les classiques ardennaises.

Louis Meintjes :
«Ces dernières semaines, je me suis beaucoup entraîné en Andorre, où je vis, afin de préparer les rendez-vous importants de ces prochains mois. Je suis un coureur de classement général, c’est pourquoi j’ambitionne le meilleur résultat possible à l’issue des huit étapes. L’objectif sera de monter en puissance au fur et à mesure des jours. Car les trois dernières étapes, en particulier, présentent un important dénivelé et promettent d’être très difficiles. J’ai déjà hâte d’y être. Je compte donner le meilleur de moi-même cette semaine. »

Loïc Vliegen :
«Je suis gonflé à bloc pour mon retour en compétition. Après Liège-Bastogne-Liège, j’ai observé un repos d’une semaine avant de me rendre en stage en altitude, à Livigno aux côtés de Jan Bakelants et Aimé De Gendt. Nous y sommes restés trois semaines. Nous avons pu bénéficier d’un excellent cadre et des séances d’entraînement productives en vue des belles et importantes échéances à venir. Là, je n’ai pas souffert de l’allergie au pollen qui m’avait perturbé pendant les classiques. J’ai repéré plusieurs étapes intéressantes pour moi sur ce Dauphiné, et où j’ai l’intention de jouer un rôle. Aussi, Louis Meintjes sait que je pourrai me rendre utile pour l’aider à remplir son objectif d’un bon classement général. Je suis très motivé à l’idée d’épingler un dossard à nouveau et de pouvoir m’exprimer en compétition sous les couleurs de l’équipe. »

Hilaire Van der Schueren :
« Chacune des étapes sera importante, pour la simple raison que je veux voir les garçons à l’offensive ! Notre objectif sera d’essayer de durcir la course, c’est pourquoi la sélection se compose d’électrons libres, qui jouiront d’une totale liberté pour se livrer tous les jours. Avec Louis Meintjes, nous avons également l’intention de viser un bon classement général. Il est de tradition de s’appuyer sur le Critérium du Dauphiné pour se mettre en valeur en vue du Tour de France. Les coureurs savent que c’est l’une des dernières opportunités pour être au départ de la Grande Boucle. Ils seront extrêmement motivés et ils auront à coeur d’imiter leurs équipiers en ce moment sur le Tour d’Italie, qui brillent par leur esprit offensif. »

La sélection :
Jan Bakelants
Jérémy Bellicaud
Théo Delacroix
Jasper De Plus
Louis Meintjes
Kévin van Melsen
Loïc Vliegen

Direction sportive :
Hilaire Van der Schueren
Bart Wellens

Critérium du Dauphiné 2021 :
Stage 1 (30/05): Issoire – Issoire (182 km)
Stage 2 (31/05): Brioude – Saugues (173 km)
Stage 3 (01/06): Langeac – Saint-Haon-Le-Vieux (172,5 km)
Stage 4 (02/06): Firminy – Roche-la-Molière (16,4 km) (= ITT)
Stage 5 (03/06): Saint-Chamond – Saint-Vallier (175,5 km)
Stage 6 (04/06): Loriol-sur-Drôme – Le Sappey-en-Chartreuse (168 km) 
Stage 7 (05/06): Saint-Martin-Le-Vinoux – La Plagne (171 km)
Stage 8 (06/06): La Léchère-Les-Bains – Les Gets (147 km)

— mseWGG to intermarche-wantygobert.eu

Australian duo Howson & Stannard lead Team BikeExchange’s charge at Criterium du Dauphine – Team BikeExchange

Recent Tour de Hongrie winner Damien Howson and young 22-year-old Robert Stannard lead Team BikeExchange at the eight-day Criterium du Dauphine later this week, as the team go on the offensive, eyeing stage wins and a high overall placing.

The diverse line-up allows the squad to make the most of opportunities that may present themselves during the French tour, with talent ranging from older experienced riders in American Brent Bookwalter, Ethiopian Tsgabu Grmay and Kazakh Andrey Zeits, who returns to competition after crashing out of Coppi Bartali in March.

Balancing out the squad and adding an ounce of youthful motivation alongside Stannard will be Hungarian Barnabás Peák and Italian climber Kevin Colleoni, ready for the tough eight-day race, which often sees many riders arriving in top form in preparation for the Tour de France starting later in the month.

Team BikeExchange at Criterium du Dauphine:
Brent Bookwalter (USA)
Kevin Colleoni (ITA)
Barnabás Peák (HUN)
Damien Howson (AUS)
Tsgabu Grmay (ETH)
Robert Stannard (AUS)
Andrey Zeits (KAZ)

Damien Howson
“Dauphine can be one of the most demanding one-week races on the calendar with many riders going there in top shape, for a lot of the field it is their final preparation race before the Tour de France so there is not surprise to how difficult it can be.

This year will be my eighth Dauphine, I have done it every year since I turned professional back in 2014 so I know what to expect and I think I can go into this race with a fair bit of confidence from my win last week at the Tour de Hongrie.

We have a good group of guys to take opportunities and mix it amongst all terrains and stages of this race. I hope to be consistent and look for a nice result next week.”

Laurenzo Lapage – Sport Director
“We have a good mixed team for the race and Rob Stannard has shown in Ruta del Sol recently that he is in good shape after taking multiple top-10 stage placings and coming close to a stage win, so he will be a rider we can look to for stage results during the week.

The general classification will be a hard fight, many riders use Dauphine as their preparations for the Tour and it is always a hard race. Damien Howson just came off an overall victory at the Tour de Hongrie, so we also know he is in good shape and can be an option for us for the overall.

With the team we have, there’s a lot of strength and a mix of youth and experienced riders so we can really look to use our numbers and race aggressively.”

2021 Criterium du Dauphine Race Details:
Sunday, 30th May: Stage 1, Issoire to Issoire, 182km
Monday, 31st May: Stage 2, Brioude to Saugues, 173km
Tuesday, 1st June: Stage 3, Langeac to Saint-Haon-Le-Vieux, 172.5km
Wednesday, 2nd June: Stage 4, Firminy to Roche-La-Moliere
Thursday, 3rd June: Stage 5, Saint-Chamond to Saint-Vallier, 175.4km
Friday, 4th June: Stage 6, Loriol-Sur-Drome to Le Sappey-en-Chartreuse, 167.5km
Saturday, 5th June: Stage 7, Saint-Martin-Le-Vinoux to La Plange, 171.5km
Sunday, 6th June: Stage 8, La Lechere-les-Bains to Les Gets, 147km 

Photo courtesy of Vanik Zoltan

— Team BikeExchange to www.greenedgecycling.com

Astana – Premier Tech to play multiple cards at Critérium du Dauphiné – Astana

Astana – Premier Tech to play multiple cards at Critérium du Dauphiné

Astana – Premier Tech is set to line up at the Critérium du Dauphiné with an ambitious team targeting the General Classification and stage wins at the eight-day race.

Ion Izagirre will make his debut at the French stage race where he will lead the Kazakh – Canadian team in the General Classification battle. The Itzulia Basque Country stage winner is looking to build on his early season results, with top ten finishes at three WorldTour stage races to his name.

“It is the first time that I will race the Critérium du Dauphiné in my career but I don’t think that will be a big factor. The idea is to try to and be as high as possible in the General Classification but we know that it is one of the big pre-Tour de France races, with the majority of the Tour de France favourites, so it will not be easy. But we are also aiming for a stage win which would be a great result for the team. We have a good, strong team, with Alex Aranburu and Alexey Lutsenko lining up as well. I think after our training camp in Tenerife, we will arrive in good shape and see exactly how the condition is. It’s true that this if the race before the Tour where you can see exactly where you are, how you’re going physically, and we are really motivated for a good race”, – said Ion Izagirre.

Team Performance Manager Dmitriy Fofonov highlighted Astana – Premier Tech’s versatile roster which includes fellow Itzulia Basque Country stage winner Alex Aranburu and Kazakh road race champion Alexey Lutsenko. The duo will target stage wins and will be joined by Dmitriy Gruzdev, Yuriy Natarov, Benjamin Perry and Oscar Rodriguez at the start line.

“We are now approaching an important time in the season in the lead up to the Tour de France and as always, the Critérium du Dauphiné is a big objective for the team. Ion Izagirre will have the team’s full support for the General Classification and we are confident he can do well in what will be his final preparation for the Tour de France”, – said Dmitriy Fofonov.

“This year’s edition is a tough one and as always, the GC will come down to the mountain stages in the final weekend. Alongside Ion, we have a strong team that will also target stage wins and for this we have two good cards to play in Alex Aranburu and Alexey Lutsenko. After a good altitude block in Tenerife, the riders are in good shape and are looking forward to testing their form in France”.

Critérium du Dauphiné (30 May – 6 June)

Rider roster: Alex Aranburu (ESP), Dmitriy Gruzdev (KAZ), Ion Izagirre (ESP), Alexey Lutsenko (KAZ), Yuriy Natarov (KAZ), Benjamin Perry (CAN), Oscar Rodriguez (ESP).

Sports Directors: Dmitriy Fofonov (KAZ), Steve Bauer (CAN).

— Vitalii to www.astanapremiertech.com