Astana Pro Team kicked off its 2013 season on Monday in Argentina at the Tour de San Luis, racing 164km from San Luis to Villa Mercedes.
All riders finished safely in the main bunch after a fast and windy stage won by former World Champion Mark Cavendish of the UK in a mass sprint on the crowded main streets of this Argentinian agricultural town.
“The first day of the season started a little bit nervously for all 26 teams. There was a strong tail wind for more than half the stage, and so most of the peloton was trying to come to ride at the front. In the final hour of racing the average speed was 50-60 kilometers per hour,” said Director Sportif Alexandr Shefer.
Astana rider Andrey Zeits, from Pavlodar, KAZ, said he was happy to have come through the first day of the 2013 season.
“Twenty six teams is a lot of riders, and about half of the teams here are from South America. They are in the middle of their season, while the European peloton is only just starting. For us on Astana it was the beginning of a long journey that will continue to October,” Zeits said.
Astana rider Paolo Tiralongo marked Monday’s start as the first day of his fourteenth year racing professionally. The Avola, Sicily native said he feels stronger than ever.
“With experience comes a certain amount of simplicity to the start of the season. I’m more certain of my training, I have confidence in myself and my capabilities. After 14 years I can say that cycling is still very difficult, but also that it is easier for me now than when I was just starting our and learning my way in the peloton,” Tiralongo said.