With August 1st past, UCI teams can now announce new signings for the 2013 season. Although it's not official, it looks like young Italian sprinter Andrea Guardini will move to Astana next year. The 23 year old sprinter, who has notched 10 wins so far this season will leave the ProContinental outfit Farnese Vini-Selle Italia for the WorldTour squad sponsored by Kazakstan. Guardini had a dramatic win over World Champ Mark Cavendish at the Giro d'Italia in May and will john Vicenzo Nibali and bring two Liquigas teammates, Valerio Agnoli and Alessandro Vanotti. Also joining Astana on a two-year deal is top Italian U23 climber Fabio Aru (above) has won the Giro della Valle d'Aosta in 2011 & 2012 and was second in the GiroBio 2012 to American Joe Dombrowski of Bontrager-Livestrong, who Aru will meet again when he makes his pro debut in the upcoming USA Pro Challenge in Colorado.
Along with Nibali leaving Liquigas-Canondale, two more key riders have decided to depart for 2013. 34 year old Polish rider Sylwester Szmyd and 26 year old Italian rider Eros Capecchi will both head to Movistar Team next season. Movistar manager Eusebio Unzué's commented "Szmyd has shown through all these years that he's one of the biggest domestiques in the mountains, and his signing can do really well for Movistar. Capecchi is a young talent with a huge margin of for improvement, and I think he might be able to tackle big goals in Grand Tours into a short term."
Over at Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank, there were a couple of new signings. The more formidable came with the imprint of Irish champ (and son of the Irish hero Stephen) Nicholas Roche who comes off of years with the French AG2R outfit. Also, 23-year-old Slovenian Marko Kump will come on board for 2013. Kump, a winner of the U23 Tour of Flanders in 2010 and is considered a classics rider who can beef up the Danish outfits spring forces. "Marko is without a doubt a very talented guy, who I believe can grow into a great Spring Classics rider, but also make results in smaller stage races,” said team owner Bjarne Riis. “He is powerful, he is strong in hilly courses and also strong on the finish line. At the same time Marko has really impressed me this year, and I look forward to have him on the team.”
Kump re-enters the World Tour after a season back at Adria Mobil. He was with the ill-fated Geox-TMC squad in 2011 and returned to his Slovenian team this season, where he leads the UCI Europe Tour, having won eight UCI races so far in 2012. "I'm very excited and happy about this new opportunity with Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank. It's a great team, so this is a dream come true.", explained Kump.
Keough Ready for Breakthrough at USA Pro Challenge?
Unitedhealthcare's Jacob Keough had a big win on Stage 4 of the Tour of Utah, a tough 215km stage in hot, desert conditions where he bested Garmin's Tyler Farrar among other sprinters. Keough has improved a lot in 2012, going from a US crit rider to a real road sprinter. The 24 year-old from Sandwich, Massachusetts is already in his 5th year as a pro and had a big start to his season this year in Argentina, where he took fourth top 10 finishes in seven stages of the 2012 Tour de San Luis .
Next for the Massachusetts fast man was a trip to Malaysia for the Tour de Langkawi and again, Keough did not disappoint, with four podiums in Langkawi, but Keough might have done more if he didn't have to contend with Italian speedster Andrea Guardini, who won five stages in the Malaysian tour.
On his first European foray of 2012, Keough ran into bad luck she he crashed hard in Belgium and Turkey and eventually his injuries excluded his selection from the Tour of California. Keough's road back continued with a less than stellar performance but he came back quickly with wins in the Air Force Classic’s Crystal City Cup and Rockstar Games Harlem Skyscraper Classic in June.
Keough started his tune-up for Utah and Coloradp in July at the high-altitude Tour of Qinghai Lake in China where he had 5 top10 sprint finishes, twice a stage runner-up.
At the upcoming USA Pro Challenge in Colorado, Keough will face fellow American sprinters Farrar and Phinney and Italians Francesco Chicchi and Daniele Colli in the hilly stage race, with Stage 5 on August 24, a 189.7km ride from Breckenridge to Colorado Springs perhaps best suited to Keough's finishing speed. Perhaps one of the World Tour teams in Colorado will see his talent and give the fast young American a shot at the big time next season.