Astana – Premier Tech back Aranburu and Felline for Opening Weekend
Alex Aranburu and Fabio Felline will assume leadership duties for Astana – Premier Tech at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne – Brussels – Kuurne this weekend, while Canadian Benjamin Perry is set to make his debut for the Kazakh – Canadian team.
The traditional start to the Belgian Classics remain unchanged with the WorldTour Omloop Het Nieuwsblad falling on Saturday followed by the sprinter-friendly Kuurne – Brussels – Kuurne on Sunday.
After starting his season at the Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var, Felline is hoping to repeat previous success in Belgium.
“The first races in Belgium are always particular as everyone is really motivated to be there and this means there is always a lot of stress too. But this is Belgium and the Classics. I have quite a good relationship with the first of the two races, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, where I was fourth in 2017. Last year, I had a bit of bad luck and made some mistakes in the race so I want to do better this weekend and ride well. You have to be concentrating always and avoid any tactical errors, so I hope that my legs will be good and I can go for a good result.” – says Fabio Felline
Aranburu is looking to capitalize on the experience he has gained in the past year since making his Classics debut at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in 2020.
“I started my season last weekend at Tour de la Provence and the truth is that I felt pretty good so I’m looking forward to taking on Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne – Brussels – Kuurne. Maybe I lacked a bit of rhythm but I was happy with how the race turned out. Last year I raced these races for the first time. They were very hard because of the route and bad weather so I hope this year we have better conditions. But I like this kind of racing and I hope that the experience of last year is worth something this year. I’m eager and we have a good team so I think we can do a good job in the races,” – says Alex Aranburu
Sports Director Stefano Zanini said the team will have the freedom to look for opportunities in both races.
“We are lining up at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad with a versatile team who will ride in support of Alex Aranburu and Fabio Felline. However, we don’t have a top favourite for these races and we need to use this to our advantage by riding aggressively and seeing what opportunities we can take. Fabio has been good at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in the past and narrowly missed the podium in 2017, and we have really seen Alex grow a lot as a rider since he made his debut in the Belgium Classics last year. Manuele Boaro and Benjamin Perry have some past experience at Opening Weekend while Gorka Izagirre, Davide Martinelli, and Yevgeniy Fedorov will all race Omloop Het Nouewsblad for the first time. Our team remains unchanged for Kuurne – Brussels – Kuurne, with the exception of Artyom Zakharov, who will replace Fedorov.” says Stefano Zanini, Astana – Premier Tech Sports Director.
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (27 Feb) & Kuurne – Brussels – Kuurne (28 Feb)
Rider roster: Alex Aranburu (ESP), Manuel Boaro (ITA), Yevgeniy Fedorov (KAZ) – only Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Fabio Felline (ITA), Gorka Izagirre (ESP), Davide Martinelli (ITA), Benjamin Perry (CAN), Artyom Zakharov (KAZ) – only Kuurne – Brussels – Kuurne
Sports Directors: Stefano Zanini (ITA), Steve Bauer (CAN), Dmitriy Muravyev (KAZ)