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According to Gazzetta dello Sport and Cyclingnews, the Italian has agreed terms with Astana and will be Nibali's key domestique in the mountains in the 2014 Tour de France

Photo: Sirotti








22.10.2013 @ 12:36 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

According to reports both in Gazzetta dello Sport and on Cyclingnews, Michele Scarponi has agreed terms with Astana and will sign a contract later this week. The Italian is expected to be a key domestique for Vincenzo Nibali in the 2014 Tour de France.


Following months of speculation, Michele Scarponi appears to finally have found a team for the 2014 season. Reports in Gazzetta dello Sport and on Cyclingnews link the 2011 Giro champion with a move to Astana.


Scarponi's future was up in the air due to his involvement with banned doctor Michele Ferrari for which he served a 3-month ban over the winter. Apparently, co-sponsor Merida of his current Lampre-Merida team was worried about the possible bad publicity and Scarponi was not allowed to compete by his team in the early part of the season.


He reached an agreement with the team which reportedly included a pay cut and was allowed to race at the end of February. His season was marred by bad luck in races like Paris-Nice and Tour de Suisse but he managed to finish 3 in the Volta a Catalunya, 4th in the Giro d'Italia and 5th in the Liege-Bastogne-Liege and won the GP Costa degli Etruschi late in the season.


At the world championships, he was the final rider to stay with Vincenzo Nibali and he set up the decisive attack by his captain on the last passage of the Fiesole climb. That race may have just been the beginning of a long-term relationship between the two Italian stars if the rumours of his move to Astana are confirmed.


Cyclingnews understands that Scarponi has already agreed terms with the Kazakh team and that he will sign a contract later this week. Nibali has set his sights on the Tour de France in 2014 and Scarponi is expected to be one of his key support riders alongside riders like Janez Brajkovic, Jakob Fuglsang, Tanel Kangert and new signings Mikel Landa and Franco Pellizotti.


Ivan Basso has long been rumoured to be joining Astana but the 2006 and 2010 Giro champion has a contract with Cannondale and has made it clear that he will stay in his current surroundings. As Nibali's former teammate, he has a good relationship with the Astana captain but the duo will not be reunited at Astana in 2014.


"With Michele, I don't have the same friendship that I have with Basso, but he is a very strong climber and could be a valuable partner," Nibali said recently.


Astana is a member of the Movement for a Credible Cycling whose rules do not allow teams to sign riders who have served a doping ban during the last two years. However, those rules only apply to bans of more than 6 months and so a signing of Scarponi is allowed. On the other hand, the team may be forced to postpone th hiring of Pellizotti until May 2 2014, two years after the end of his ban.


If the signing of Scarponi is confirmed, he will be the 6th addition to the team following the earlier announcements of Pellizotti, Landa, Lieuwe Westra, Daniil Fominykh and Valentin Iglinskiy as new riders on the team.



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