Astana heads into the Santos Tour Down Under with several fresh faces, including new signing Luis Leon Sanchez.
Cycling Central

7 Apr 2015 - 5:20 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:35 PM

Sanchez is a complete pro package, a stylish rider, incredible descender and is a four-time time trial winner at the Spanish national championships.

He's a past winner (2005) of the 17 to 25 January Santos Tour Down Under. He also has four Tour de France stage victories to his name, a 2009 Paris-Nice win and two Clasica de San Sebastian (2010/2012) titles.

In short, he's a strong and useful addition to any WorldTour team, able to win when the conditions suit but also handy as a super domestique for a rider with Grand Tour winning ambitions, like Astana team leader and 2014 Tour de France winner, Vincenzo Nibali.

Sanchez was a regular at Caisse d'Epargne (now Movistar) before moving on to a troubled three-year tenure at the Rabobank/Blanco/Belkin squad.

His time at the Dutch formation did not end well. He was first suspended for alleged links to the drawn out Operacion Puerto doping case then eventually paid out of his contract, as the team attempted to rid itself of the shadows of the past.

The 31-year-old retreated to the Spanish ProContinental ranks with Caja Rural-Seguros RGA for 2014, winning a stage at the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon and claiming the mountains classification at the Vuelta a Espana with clever tactical riding.

Sanchez will be joined by 2014 Tour de France stage winner and another new rider to Astana, Lars Boom, a rider it will look to later in the year for the cobbled classics.

Also new to the team is Dario Cataldo, who won a stage of the Giro d'Italia in 2013 and was Italian Time Trial Champion in 2012, and Laurens de Vreese, former under 23 Belgian road rhampion (2010).

Davide Malacarne (ITA), Ruslan Tleubayev (KAZ) and Lieuwe Westra (NED) will complete the lineup.

Astana for the Santos Tour Down Under:
Luis Leon Sanchez (ESP), Lars Boom (NED), Dario Cataldo (ITA), Laurens de Vreese (BEL), Davide Malacarne (ITA), Ruslan Tleubayev (KAZ) and Lieuwe Westra.