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"It depends on my condition but I am on the long list. My schedule has been created to build me up for the Tour. I have created it with the team management and I am very happy with my programme," Westra tells Wielerland.nl

Photo: Feltet.dk

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30.11.2013 @ 12:48 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Lieuwe Westra was one of the first Vacansoleil riders to find a new team as the Dutchman will ride in Astana colours in 2014. He will have a race schedule that is loaded with major stage races and is in contention for a spot on the Tour de France roster.

 

Lieuwe Westra's 2013 season did not live up to his lofty expectations but the classy time trial specialist has often proved his worth in past years. Hence, he had no trouble finding a new team when it was announced that Vacansoleil will fold at the end of the season.

 

In 2014, Westra will be part of the Astana team where he hopes to find back to the kind of form that saw him impress the entire cycling world in the 2012 Paris-Nice. In that race, he won the queen stage to Mende and finished within seconds of Bradley Wiggins in the uphill time trial on Col d'Eze. The result earned him a 2nd place in the overall standings behind the race-winning Brit.

 

Wetra has been mostly known for his time trialing skills but his performances in the French stage race have shown that he is also a splendid climber. This suggests that he could develop into a great stage racer but in the past he has also focused on both cobbled and hilly classics.

 

That won't be the case in his new team which has given him a race schedule that is loaded with top-level stage races. He will kick off his season in January at the Tour Down Under and will ride the Tour of Qatar and the Tour of Oman as he prepares for a return to the Paris-Nice.

 

Later in March, he will continue his schedule of WorldTour stage races at the Volta a Catalunya before going on the Vuelta al Pais Vasco. His spring season will end at the final of the major one-week stage races in the early part of the season when he is scheduled to ride the Tour de Romandie.

 

His major target is, however, not personal success in the many stage races. Instead, he hopes to earn a spot on the Astana roster for the Tour de France where he could play a key role for Vincenzo Nibali who aims to take the throne away from Chris Froome. He will get his chance to prove that he deserves his place in the Criterium du Dauphiné.

 

"It depends on my condition but I am on the long list," he told Wielerland. "My schedule has been created to build me up for the Tour. I have created it with the team management and I am very happy with my programme."

 

The schedule means that there will be no 3 Days of De Panne for Westra in 2014. The stage race has been one of his targets for the past few years and he was 2nd in both 2011 and 2012 and 5th this year.

 

"With the focus on stage races, I will no longer do a race like the 3 Days of De Panne. This makes sure that I will not once again finish 2nd. I don't dare to do it anymore," he said with a smile.

 

In general, Westra is very pleased to be part of one of cycling's major teams.

 

"I am very happy with the way everything is done," he told De Telegraaf. "Astana wants to achieve something with me. But it is also a team. At the first team meeting in Italy, I looked around and saw all those great riders. Then it's great to be in the pre-selection for the Tour team that will be built around Vincenzo Nibali."

 

In 2013 Westra's only wins came at his national time trial championships and a stage in the Tour of California.

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