Alexandr Riabushenko, Simone Velasco and Michele Gazzoli set to join Astana Qazaqstan Team
Three more riders will join Astana Qazaqstan Team in the new season: Alexandr Riabushenko, Simone Velasco and neo-pro Michele Gazzoli all signed a two-year contract for 2022 and 2023.
Belarusian rider Alexandr Riabushenko (26) turned pro in 2018 after a few impressive victories: he won the U23 European Road Championships in 2016 and Piccolo Giro di Lombardia in 2017. During these four years in the WorldTour Riabushenko continued to develop as a professional rider, gaining experience and taking first important results: in 2018 he was second at a stage of Itzulia Basque Country, in 2019 he won Coppa Agostoni, reached the podium at Gran Premio Citta di Lugano and finished fourth in the road race of the European Games, in 2020 Alexandr was third both at Memorial Marco Pantani and Coppa Sabatini.
The 2021 season was impacted by a hand fracture in a bad crash at the Tour of the Alps, however Riabushenko still was able to get some good performances as, for example, second place on a stage of Settimana Ciclistica Italiana and 11th place at Vuelta a Castilla y Leon.
“After four years in one team I feel like it is time to get a change in my career, to do a new step towards my development as a rider. I can say that I really like Astana and I was cheering for this team since I was junior. It is a great team and I saw many champions riding for this team and scoring many big successes in Astana colors. It is a pleasure and honor for me to join this team and to become a part of its history. I am ready for any calendar and any race in the upcoming season, I just want to be useful to the team, trying to help the leaders to reach their biggest goals. Of course, I would like to get a chance to ride for my personal result and I hope it will come at the one-day races, for example, as I like it a lot. But also would be great to do the Giro or the Tour, as my only Grand Tour experience was La Vuelta in 2020. I am looking forward to start the new season with Astana Qazaqstan Team”, – said Alexandr Riabushenko.
Italian rider Simone Velasco (25) is one-day races specialist with a good sprint from a reduced group. After a number of important successes on the Under 23 level, Velasco turned pro in 2016 with a pro continental team. Trofeo Laigueglia (2019), a stage at Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali (2019), a stage at Tour du Limousin (2021) and a third place at a stage of Tirreno-Adriatico (2021) can be named about rider’s best results.
“For every rider who is turning professional the biggest dream is to join a WorldTour team, to reach the highest level of cycling. For me Astana is the best solution, the best team I could join, and I am really happy with that. It is an honor for me to meet big riders in this team and at the same time to work for them and to help them to reach the goals. I hope I will be able to do another step ahead in my progress and also I hope I will have a chance to show all my abilities, working hard for the team. Of course, I would like to find my chance too in any race which would suit me and where the team would trust in me”, – said Simone Velasco.
Michele Gazzoli (22) is preparing to begin his professional career with Astana Qazaqstan Team. This year the young Italian rider impressed many specialists with a strong performance at the U23 World Road Championships, where he finished fourth, and at the famous Italian U23 one-day race Gran Premio della Liberazione, won by Michele in a sprint from a reduced leading group.
“I am really happy to come to Astana Qazaqstan Team as for me it is one of the best teams in the world. I am excited with the chance to ride side by side with the biggest stars as Vincenzo Nibali and Gianni Moscon, for example. I know that my first year in the WorldTour will be a hard one and I have to learn many things and to gain a lot of experience, but I am ready for this challenge. My main goal for the new year is to learn as much as possible and to help the team in the best possible way. I have a dream to start at the Giro d’Italia and I hope I’ll do it one day, but right now I just hope to start the season with the team and to keep on working day by day”, – said Michele Gazzoli.
“I welcome the new riders in Astana Qazaqstan Team. Alexandr Riabushenko is already well-known young rider, who showed some good results in one-day races. I think we can keep on improving this direction for him but, of course, Alexandr can provide a good help to our leaders in stage races too. Simone Velasco is going to step into the WorldTour with our team and I think, this new chapter of his career will motivate him. We saw him improving fast over the last few years and it seems that Velasco can strengthen our one-day race direction. Michele Gazzoli is a young rider and Astana Qazaqstan Team will be his first professional team. We see a big potential in this rider, and I think that in our team he can find all necessary for a good development on a professional level”, – said Alexandr Vinokurov, General Manager of Astana Qazaqstan Team.
Photo credit: @Gettysport