Astana reveals new name for 2022 as main sponsor Premier Tech withdraws from team
Astana-Premier Tech unveiled its new name for the 2022 season, as its main sponsor Premier Tech withdraws from the team
The Kazakh WorldTour team has gone through a few turbulent years, characterized by financial problems and changes in leadership.
From next year the team, led by former pro Alexander Vinokourov, will be known as Astana Qazaqstan, with the Kazakh Cycling Federation becoming a major player in the team.
The name change coincides with Vinokourov’s return to the helm, after some somewhat bizarre power struggles at the top of the organization in recent years.
Earlier this year, reports revealed that Vinokourov was fired in 2020 as part of the Premier Tech reshuffle, as the Canadian packaging machine manufacturing company joined the team as part-owner. Vinokourov was then reinstated a day later, according to reports.
Vinokourov was dismissed by the team again on the eve of the 2021 Tour de France, but in August the team announced he would return to lead the team until 2022.
Recent reports have suggested that Vinokourov was reinstated after an intervention by the Kazakh government.
The Astana team, named after the capital of Kazakhstan (which has since been renamed Nur-Sultan), is currently co-owned by a group of Kazakh state-owned enterprises and Premier Tech, giving the national government clout. considerable on the team. .
Premier Tech will now leave Astana after just one season, apparently due to squad conflicts, and is said to be in negotiations with another WorldTour team over a potential partnership.
The leadership difficulties follow financial difficulties for the team in 2020, as runners and staff were not paid at the start of the year due to a delay in receiving the budget from the sovereign wealth fund.
Regarding the new approach for 2022, Vinokourov said: “It is an honor for me to take over the leadership of this team as Managing Director. For the past 16 years, the Astana Cycling Project has been our country’s trademark in the sports world, and I would like to thank the leaders of Kazakhstan for their many years of support and trust.
“The Astana Qazaqstan team is not just a new team name, it is an updated project philosophy emphasizing closer integration of our sports brand and the promotion of the Republic of Kazakhstan in as a major international partner. In the current period, preparations for the new season and the registration of the team in the first division are in full swing. Beside that, we are working on an additional project, which we will announce soon.
Astana said Qazaqstan is “Kazakhstan’s most accurate and correct name in its English transcription” as the team refocuses on its commitment to promoting the nation through cycling.
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Nurlan Smagulov, President of the Kazakh Cycling Federation said: “The name of our state will appear on the jerseys of the cyclists and in the new team logo, and it will become a kind of sign of the continuation of traditions and, in at the same time, a moment of change and renewal in the service of two important objectives: the promotion of the image of our country all over the world and the development of domestic cycling.
“The project is taking a second breath and is preparing for a new turning point in its development. I would like to express my special gratitude to the government of the Republic of Kazakhstan as well as to the professional sports club Astana, who actively support the team. I am happy that the Kazakh Cycling Federation will play an important role in the development of the renewed team and the implementation of ambitious plans, which will be announced in the near future.
“Also, I am happy that our federation is presented both to the board of directors and to the management of the Astana Qazaqstan team. We plan to strengthen the team’s work with the federation in the transfer of professional skills to national athletes and specialists as well as a deeper participation of the Astana Qazaqstan team in the life of Kazakh cycling.