Astana

Kazakhstan | Team Website

It’s a sight that would have gladdened the hearts of the people behind the UCI’s original mondialisation project: a Kazakh team, led by an Italian and a Dane. Unfortunately, it’s less a model of international harmony than a conversation between monolingual foreigners who don’t quite speak each others’ language. Fans of visual metaphor may note that the apparent lack of purpose and coherence in the team as a whole is reflected perfectly in the chromatic discord of the light blue and bright yellow in their team kit.

Despite that, Astana’s Grand Tour leader Vincenzo Nibali won the 2014 Tour de France after finishing third overall in the 2012 edition. However, Astana’s success has subsequently been tempered by several doping cases within the team, with Maxim and Valentin Iglinkskiy both failing tests for banned blood booster EPO in late 2014.

Cycle sport’s governing body, the UCI, conducted a review into the team and its management, and while the team’s WorldTour status looked somewhat in jeopardy, it was subsequently awarded a licence with conditions for 2015.

That licence came under scrutiny again however, after the results of an audit in to the team’s policies and structures by the Institute of Sports Science at the University of Lausanne caused the UCI to request the Licence Commission to revoke Astana’s WorldTour status.

Credit: Graham Watson

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