Astana’s vanishing rider

Spot the missing person?

Following yesterday’s story of Astana hiring Andrei Kashechkin in breach of the UCI’s rules, it seems there’s been some behind the scenes work to fix things. A rider has vanished the list of Astana riders overnight.

The story so far is that Kashechkin should not have been allowed to join Astana as the squad was already at the upper limit of 28 riders. But the UCI approved the transfer from Lampre, issuing the requisite paperwork in time for “Kash” to start the Vuelta. In defence, the UCI apparently told L’Equipe that they were led to believe Vinokourov had retired… but Vino denies this, indeed the UCI never removed Vinokourov from the team listings or its rankings.

Although I’d be interested to know how this mess occurred, it’s created an embarrassing situation for Astana and the UCI.

The solution? Well a rider has disappeared from the team’s listings. Yesterday I visited to check and Astana had a rule-breaking 29 riders. Today you can count 28 riders on the team’s page on the same website. Something’s changed and it seems Roman Kireyev got quietly ejected this morning. You can see for yourself with Google cache.

Roman Kireyev

Ironically for a team from an ex-Soviet country, this time it seems the UCI has airbrushed him. He’s still listed on the team’s website (at the time of writing) but not with the UCI. You have to feel sorry for him, poor Kireyev has been racing with the team until recently, for example he took part in the recent Tour de l’Ain, finishing a dependable 40th overall. Only now he’s vanished and I hope someone has told him about this. One minute he had a pro licence, the next it was gone.

It seems harsh, Kireyev might not have set the world of pro cycling alight but now it looks like his pro status has disappeared overnight and he might never get a chance again to prove what he’s capable of. I hope the rider has been well-compensated for this sudden change in his status as it is not fair on a lowly rider to see their position change overnight because of the mistakes of others.

With one more rider than the rules allow, something had to be done at Astana following Kashechkin’s arrival on the squad. But it seems tough on a modest rider to find himself ejected from the team as a response, especially since Kireyev has nothing to do with the administrative bungling.

21 thoughts on “Astana’s vanishing rider”

  1. Anyone got any idea whether he was going to be released anyway? If not, he’ll probably just reappear on the roster after Lombardy, no? You’d think Astana would have some sort of behind the scenes deal with Kireyev one way or the other. Otherwise he’d surely have some comeback what with them breaking his contract…

  2. Didn’t Astana announce that they will have an additional development squad next year? Could a disappeared rider reside there temporarily? I can picture Vino retiring early next year after all the UCI points are accrued and ProTour status awarded.

  3. The UCI have their own rules on contracts. Under their own rules, a team can only end a rider’s contract “in the event of serious misconduct on the part of the Rider or of the suspension of the Rider under the terms of the UCI regulations for the remaining duration of the present contract.” Notice has to be given too. Kireyev has vanished from one day to the next.

    It smells like a quick fix where the existing rules are being overlooked in order to deal with the embarrassment. I can’t see the provisions that allow for this but maybe someone can.

    Note Katusha “over-recruited” in the winter too and had to shunt a rider off the team to the feeder squad and another was encouraged to retire.

  4. It seems Astana’s first priority was to get Kashechkin into the points hunt at the Vuelta. They can sweep up the broken crockery later. And as pirates say: the code is more what you’d call “guidelines” than actual rules.

  5. The fall guy. It’s chilling to see the way he’s listed one minute and gone the next. I hope he can continue as a rider because he hasn’t made a mistake here.

  6. RE: Katusha…your wrong about that. They didn’t have to “shunt off” any riders like they thought they were going to have to…The guy they “pushed to retire” is named Timofey Kritskiy, an incredibly talented rider (one of the best of his class, if not the best) who was in a horrific accident in ’09 Tour de l’Avenir…He was signed as a neo for ’10 but didn’t ride until the end of season in a few Belgian races, he was scheduled to come back for ’11 but they had to re-do his surgery on his shattered tibia/fibula…Tchmil and the team supported him through the whole recovery and even though they took him off the WT team this year, they paid him his waged for ’10 and when he fully recovered, he came back on Itera-Katusha and has been racing back into form and is scheduled to come back to the WT for ’12
    Sorry for the novel but just wanted to keep the record straight

  7. CK: true about Kritskiye but another rider was “encouraged” to retire to make space for Di Luca.

    GluteCramp: we’ll see. Astana don’t want to lose talented Kazakhs. Above all, we’re seeing a rider stopped from racing mid-season through no fault of his own.

  8. Jorgen: as I said the other day, it comes down to hiring neo-pros. You can have 28 max but this can go up to 30 if you take on 2-5 ne0-pros at the start of the tear. Astana didn’t take on any neo-pros, so they are set at 28. UCI rule 2.15.110.

  9. Then: Vanishing salary. Last I heard, as of a few months ago, Astana still hadn’t paid riders and staff their full salary from a few years ago. Didn’t the UCI put their foot down and say Astana might lose their license unless they paid their riders and staff during that episode?

    Now: Vanishing rider. Do we really expect the UCI to put their foot down on this? Pfffft.

    The more things change, the more they stay the same.

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