Astana Cycling Team
Yaroslav Popovych, a top ten Tour de France and Giro d’Italia finisher, has signed a two-year agreement with the Astana Cycling Team. Starting in January 2009, the Ukrainian cyclist will join Johan Bruyneel’s team, which already includes top Grand Tour riders Lance Armstrong, Alberto Contador, Levi Leipheimer, and Andreas Klöden. Popovych, a professional since 2002, has spent his career racing for Landbouwkrediet (2002-2004), Discovery Channel (2005-2007) and most recently, Silence-Lotto (2008). During this time, the Ukrainian rider has established himself as one of the most consistent riders in the Grand Tours and stage races. In his first year at Discovery Channel, Popovych secured the Tour de France’s Best Young Rider jersey, while successfully assisting Armstrong’s quest for a record-setting seventh Tour title. His Tour de France success continued with a stage win in 2006 and a personal best eighth place overall finish in 2007, while also helping teammate Alberto Contador secure the top honor. Other notable results include two top ten overall finishes in the Giro d’Italia (3rd in 2003, 5th in 2004) and a 1st place finish in the Tour of Catalunya (2005). Prior to turning professional, Popovych captured the U23 Paris-Roubaix title and the World Road Championship in 2001.General Manager Johan Bruyneel is quite pleased to have finalized the 2009 roster with another strong rider. “Over the past few months, we have worked hard to assemble a roster that will build upon the success of the 2008 season. When I heard that Yaroslav was free, I was immediately interested. He is another cyclist that has proven himself not only as a reliable teammate, but also as a rider that can achieve his personal ambitions. Though we will discuss his season’s race schedule next month at training camp, we will most likely count on him to support our leaders in the Giro and the Tour.”Popovych, who recently finished his season at the Six Days of Milan, is looking to 2009 with renewed passion. “It may have surprised people that I would go to a team that has a number of leaders, however Johan’s organization is the perfect fit for me. He is one of the few people I know that has successfully been able to manage both individual and team goals. There may be a couple more months till 2009, but I am already looking forward to putting on the Astana Team jersey and racing.
The members of the 2009 squad:
Lance Armstrong, Assan Bazayev, Jani Brajkovic, Alberto Contador, Valeriy Dmitriyev, Aleksandr Dyachenko, Jesús Hernández, Chris Horner, Maxim Iglinskiy, Roman Kireyev, Andreas Klöden, Berik Kupeshov, Levi Leipheimer, Steve Morabito, Dmitriy Muravyev, Daniel Navarro, Benjamín Noval, Sérgio Paulinho, Yaroslav Popovych, Bolat Raimbekov, Gregory Rast, Sergey Renev, José Luis Rubiera, Michael Schär, Tomas Vaitkus, Andrey Zeits, Haimar Zubeldia.