Kazakhstan | Team Website

Astana is a team that would have gladdened the hearts of the people behind the UCI’s original globalisation project: a Kazakh squad, led by an Italian and a Dane.

Unfortunately, the impression is that the team is less a model of international harmony than a conversation between parties who don’t quite speak each others’ language.

Despite that, Italian Vincenzo Nibali won the 2014 Tour de France after finishing third overall in the 2012 edition and claiming the Giro d’Italia victory in 2013.

The team has successfully nurtured a new Grand Tour talent in the shape of Fabio Aru, who won the 2015 Vuelta a España after placing second in the Giro behind Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) earlier in the year. With two strong Grand Tour contenders on the books, the squad can comfortably field a viable contender in each of the three-week stage races.

Astana has also found success in one-day races and individual stages, with Lars Boom, Andrea Guardini, Paolo Tiralongo and Diego Rosa all claiming victories in recent seasons.

Astana’s success, however, has been tempered by controversy, including several doping cases within the team in recent years, with Maxim and Valentin Iglinskiy both failing tests for banned blood booster EPO in late 2014.

The UCI conducted a review into the team and its management, and while the team’s WorldTour status looked in jeopardy, it was awarded a licence for 2015.