ASTANA - QAZAQSTAN TEAM
The capital of Kazakhstan, renamed from Astana to Nur-Sultan in 2019 in honour of former president Nursultan Nazarbayev, has lent its name to a world-class cycling team ever since sponsor Liberty Seguros pulled out in May 2006. The team, backed by a consortium of state-owned companies based in this former Asian Soviet republic, has changed management many times throughout its coloured history.
A positive test result of its leader and founder Alexander Vinokourov led to the team being booted off the 2007 Tour and having to spend some time in cycling purgatory before its return. The Kazakh team became the talk of the town in the 2009 Tour as it broke into two factions, one coalescing around eventual winner Alberto Contador and the other around returning star Lance Armstrong. The Court of Arbitration for Sport stripped Contador of the 2010 Tour de France title at the end of a long-running legal affair. In 2011, Astana's totem rider, Alexander Vinokourov, was racing in what was supposed to be his swansong on the Tour de France when he crashed and broke a bone in the Cantal department.
As a result, determined to retire on a high note, the Kazakh champion came back to fight another day, claiming the 2012 Olympic road race in London and preparing the future of the team from a country where all these bumps on the road have failed to make a dent in its love for the Tour de France. Vincenzo Nibali brought the turquoise squad back to the forefront of the cycling scene by winning the Giro in 2013, the Tour in 2014 and another Giro in 2016. The 2015 Vuelta champion, Fabio Aru, came out on top on La Planche des Belles Filles in 2017, matching Nibali's exploit in 2014. At Peyragudes, he became the first and, so far, the only rider who has taken the yellow jersey from Chris Froome in the mountains, albeit for just two days. Jakob Fuglsang, the Danish winner of Liège–Bastogne–Liège and the Critérium du Dauphiné, crashed out of the Tour and ruined the 2019 edition for Astana, which had claimed 32 out of its 39 season victories before July. Miguel Ángel "Superman" López, who already knew what it felt like to finish on the podium in both the Giro and the Vuelta, really came into his own in 2020. The Colombian followed up Kazakh national champion Alexey Lutsenko's symbolic triumph at the top of Mont Aigoual with victory in the queen stage finishing on the Col de la Loze. This led to things clicking into place for the team’s favourite rider: In 2021, with the team plagued by internal conflicts and Vinokourov temporarily removed from managerial duties, Lutsenko focused on the general classification to finish seventh in Paris and retain his status as the sole leader for the Tour de France in 2022, despite the return of Nibali and Lopez.
- Final victories2
- Stages victories14
- Yellows Jerseys34
- Other race Won0
Overall wins: 2
- 2009: Alberto Contador
- 2014: Vincenzo Nibali
Podium finishes: 0
Stage wins: 14
- 2009: team time trial in Montpellier and Alberto Contador in Verbier and Annecy (ITT)
- 2010: Alexander Vinokourov in Revel
- 2014: Vincenzo Nibali in Sheffield, La Planche des Belles Filles, Chamrousse and Hautacam
- 2015: Vincenzo Nibali at La Toussuire
- 2017: Fabio Aru on La Planche des Belles Filles
- 2018: Omar Fraile in Mende and Magnus Cort Nielsen in Carcassonne
- 2020: Alexey Lutsenko on Mont Aigoual and Miguel Ángel López at Méribel/Col de la Loze
Secondary classification wins: 1
- 2009: team classification
Yellow Jerseys: 34
- 2009: Alberto Contador, seven days
- 2010: Alberto Contador, six days
- 2014: Vincenzo Nibali, nineteen days
- 2017: Fabio Aru, two days
19: the number of days Vincenzo Nibali spent in yellow in 2014.
7 July 2009: the Astana stars (Lance Armstrong, Alberto Contador, Levi Leipheimer, Andreas Klöden, etc.) steamroll the opposition in the team time trial as an appetiser before Contador's overall win.
6 July 2014: Vincenzo Nibali defies the long odds to outfox the peloton in a headwind and move into the lead in Sheffield.
3 September 2020: On the Tour’s first climb up the Mont Aigoual, Alexey Lutsenko becomes the second Kazakh after Alexander Vinokourov to win a stage on the Tour de France for Astana.
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