Astana begin to take shape

Astana begin to take shape
By Eurosport

03/08/2006 at 17:48Updated

With the Kazakh Prime Minister appointing Marc Biver director general and with Walter Godefroot set to become the team's sporting director, Astana are being reborn. Earning the team's first win on the UCI Pro Tour on Wednesday was Assan Bazayev, boosting

Prime Minister Danial Akhmetov, the President of the Kazakh cycling federation, set the first fully Kazakh cycling team into motion in May when he helped get Astana group to take over the sponsorship of former patron Liberty Seguros.

Liberty dumped sponsorship after sporting director and part-owner Manolo Saiz became embroiled in the Spanish doping investigation that nearly brought the Tour de France to its knees.

Now Akhmetov has brought on Biver, the former director of the Tour de Suisse and the Tour de Romandie, to run the Alexandre Vinokourov led team in the wake of their suspension from the Tour de France and loss of second sponsor Wurth.

Biver is bringing in former T-Mobile manager Godefroot to run what will, if it gains the UCI's stamp of approval, a fully-licensed Kazakh team.

"The Astana team will have a licence that is 100% Kazakh and will have nothing to do with the team previously managed by Manolo Saiz," said Biver.

Biver, who was signed on a four-year contract, said that the team would seek a new licence "in the coming days."

The team will be stationed in Biver's native Switzerland at Neuchâtel, but Astana are already set to have six Kazakh riders, including Vino, Bazayev, Andrey Kashechkin, and Sergej Yakovlev.