Yaroslav Popovych will ride for Astana beginning in 2009, after Johan Bruyneel bought him out of his contract with Silence-Lotto. The new contract with Astana runs for two years, and is reportedly a lucrative one.
In a press comment, Bruyneel explained, "Over the past few months I have worked to reinforce the team. When I heard that Popovych might be available, I was very interested in him. He is an elite cyclist who has demonstrated his value, not only as a deluxe gregario, but also as a rider with the ability to win." Though the team has not yet finalized Popovych's program for the coming year, he will likely ride both the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France. Bruyneel also confirmed that the Astana team roster is now complete.
For his part, Popovych expressed his happiness with the transfer. "The organization of the team is suited to me," he said. He admitted that some might be surprised by his decision to go to a team that already has so many leaders, but he is unbothered. "I can not wait to begin to work with my new team," he concluded.
With this transfer, Cadel Evans loses yet another support rider. The effort to sign climber Bernhard Kohl collapsed after Kohl's positive test for CERA. For Popovych, however, the departure from Silence-Lotto may mean a new beginning for his career. The Ukrainian has never ridden his best at Silence-Lotto. Indeed, his lack of success this season prompted speculation that Popovych might retire early. Perhaps a return to the Armstrong-Bruyneel fold will suit the Ukrainian better.
Here is the complete roster for Astana:
Lance Armstrong, Assan Bazayev, Jani Brajkovic, Alberto Contador, Valeriy Dmitriyev, Aleksandr Dyachenko, Jesús Hernández, Chris Horner, Maxim Iglinskiy, Roman Kireyev, Andreas Klöden, Berik Kupeshov, Levi Leipheimer, Steve Morabito, Dmitriy Muravyev, Daniel Navarro, Benjamín Noval, Sérgio Paulinho, Yaroslav Popovych, Bolat Raimbekov, Gregory Rast, Sergey Renev, José Luis Rubiera, Michael Schär, Tomas Vaitkus, Andrey Zeits, Haimar Zubeldia.