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Klöden, Popovych and Rast follow Armstrong from Astana
It is confirmed: After the signing of Levi Leipheimer and Sergio Paulinho to the new American team RadioShack - built around Lance Armstrong - more Astana riders are to leave the Kazakh squad to continue their support of the seven-time Tour de France winner next year.
Andreas Klöden, a podium contender himself, as well as Yaroslav Popovych and Gregory Rast will follow team manager Johan Bruyneel, who negotiated their way out of the contract binding them to Astana for one more year yesterday evening, after attending the 2010 Tour de France presentation in Paris.
Bruyneel sat down with Kazakh officials to sign the deal finally opening the way for him and the other three riders to join Armstrong for a new adventure.
Haimar Zubeldia, whose name had also been linked to RadioShack for next year, will however remain under Astana colours. Team leader Alberto Contador, according to L'Equipe, demanded that at least one of his teammates remain with him during his last year racing for the Kazakh squad.
Astana, as well as RadioShack, will thus be able to present their 2010 structures to the UCI in the coming days, both applying for ProTour status. Finally, it will be Yvon Sanquer that will become the new team manager of the team around Alexandre Vinokourov and Contador, while Bruyneel will manage RadioShack together with directors Alain Gallopin, Viatcheslav Ekimov and Dirk Demol, all of which follow him to RadioShack from Astana.
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