Astana’s Timely Self-Suspension

Maxim Iglinskiy

Our image is tarnished because of these isolated incidents
– Dimitri Fonfonov, Astana DS in L’Equipe

Two doping cases are dreadful news for a team but to make matters worse the Astana team now misses the final races of the year. This self-suspension is itself risks being tarnished if the team management has been orchestrating events to ensure they sit out the race of their choice.

Astana are members of the Mouvement Pour un Cyclisme Crédible (MPCC), a group of teams signing up to a self-regulatory code that goes beyond the WADA rules. One of the rules says a team must suspend itself from racing following two positive tests during a 12 month period. Crucially, and correctly, the small sprint says the team suspension begins once the B-test confirms or the rider confesses. It’s only fair to stop the whole team once you’re certain there’s been a doping positive.

But it’s here things are complicated. Last week the team was waiting for news of the B-sample to come back. Yesterday the team said Maxim Iglinskiy waived his B-test, thus admitting it all. in’s case. But it’s all in the timing as the confession suits the team’s agenda. Had Maxim confessed as quickly as his brother the suspension would have started last weekend and Astana would have faced the humiliation of missing its home Tour of Almaty in Kazakhstan plus avoiding Il Lombardia in Italy. With Maxim’s Monday confession the suspension only relates to the purgatorial Tour of Beijing allowing the team to turn up in the Adelaide sunshine for the 2015 Tour Down Under by which time we’ll have all forgotten about the Iglinskiys.

Praise due?
Perhaps we should welcome Astana’s move? The self-suspension is a tough penalty for the team and they’re shouldering it. They’ve been strict followers of the MPCC rules before, halting Franco Pellizzotti’s recruitment albeit belatedly and Vincenzo Nibali couldn’t use cortisone for a wasp sting . This time they could instead have walked out of the MPCC and carried on regardless with Beijing. After all there’s no obligation under the UCI rules or the WADA Code for a collective punishment. In fact the team suspension is a harsh measure as it denies wholly innocent riders of a chance to do their job, including some riders whose contracts are up and needed one last chance to shine and catch the eye of a team manager for a job next year.

Here’s the rub
Sport can involve probing and challenging the rules, we understand it when a team car “illegally” paces a rider back after a puncture. If professional sport is business than you might understand how teams game them rules, for example OPQS and Alessandro Petacchi tried to exploit a loophole to allow him to switch teams before the dedicated “transfer window” opened. Even the suspect practice of selling races can be explained, if not understood.

But if Astana management – let’s stress the conditional because we don’t know otherwise – has been gaming the MPCC rules over B-tests and confessions in order to time the suspension for convenience then this takes modern cynicism in pro cycling to a new level. Because the MPCC was created as voluntary set of rules to raise the bar of ethics of pro cycling it’s rules as as much about their spirit than their literal interpretation.

Perhaps Maxim forgot he took EPO and it was only on Monday morning that he remembered it all and rightly called up the UCI to cancel the B-test? Or maybe he was incommunicado for days, only emerging on Monday? All possible but so is the idea that Astana’s managers have played the rules to suit themselves, they certainly have a big motive.

Does the MPCC exist?
The MPCC is an umbrella organisation for it’s members. As a voluntary code it’s only only as good as its reputation. Rather like a group of cyclists battling a headwind, the MPCC only works if the teams collaborate. The other members would do well to press Astana on Maxim’s whereabouts over the past days and even have a vote on Astana’s presence in the group. Only 51% is needed for a binding vote.

UCI loose ends
Astana will miss the Tour of Beijing but the matter’s not finished. There’s the short term issue of whether the UCI will approve Astana’s absence from the Tour of Beijing. A no-show normally means a hefty fine but in 2013 the UCI agreed to Ag2r La Mondiale’s suspension from the Dauphiné and waived the fine.

Longer term is the broader tension between the MPCC and for how long the UCI will continue to tolerate the MPCC. As the governing body it’s setting the rules only to see the world’s top teams group together with tighter rules. Imagine a church that sees its congregation agree to stricter doctrine and worshipping in the temple down the road.

I’m hopeful that these are two cases, which is two cases too many, but I’m hoping that they are isolated incidents and not symptomatic of a greater problem in the team.
Brian Cookson, UCI President

There’s also the issue of Astana’s World Tour licence for 2015. The UCI’s Licence Commission acts independently and it’ll surely review the matter but I don’t see the team losing its licence. There are ethical hurdles to clear and you might remember Katusha stumbled over these in the past (CAS 2012/A/3031 Katusha Management SA v. UCI). It’s most likely Astana get a written warning in private. But the Licence Commission welcomes moves above and beyond the UCI rules, for example the stronger a team’s internal anti-doping stance the better and joining the MPCC was a component of Katusha’s reinstatement to the World Tour

Astana will miss the Tour of Beijing and other races, a collective punishment for the Iglinskiy brothers’ EPO positives. It seems neither the UCI nor its Licence Commission will do much because Astana the team – as opposed to the Iglinskiys – hasn’t broken any rules. Presumably the UCI will allow Astana to miss the race, following the precedent it set with Ag2r, but we await confirmation.

All that remains is all a matter of perception and conduct. It’s hard to know for sure but it appears Astana’s managers could have conspired to ensure the team’s MPCC suspension only started when they wanted. Upholding the MPCC rules is laudable, orchestrating the timing the confession of a doping confession at the team’s convenience wouldn’t be. I suspect it’ll be hard to know who did what within Astana but it wouldn’t be the first time they toyed with the rules. Loyal readers will remember the case of Roman Kireyev who developed back problems so suddenly he quit the team mid-season, just at the same time as the team hired Andrei Kashechkin in breach of the UCI’s rules.

71 thoughts on “Astana’s Timely Self-Suspension”

  1. I think it’s important to stress that all this wouldn’t have been an issue if Astana wasn’t a member of MPCC (Like Tinkoff, Movistar, Sky & OP-QS).

    • But they did sign up. And moreever Vino boasted about their membership of the MPCC as some badge of proof of their purity when pressed by the media during the team/Nibali’s pressers on the Tour rest days.

      Its the entirely-likely utter cynicism displayed by Vino and crew that INRNG is highlighting

      I’m sure that the MPCC was started in very good faith by Vaughters, Leger and co back in 2007 out of the Rasmussen etc-driven meltdown in pro cycling.

      But as soon as the MPCC welcomed with open arms others who (potentially) use it in this way, its as though all the genuine intentions behind its establishment have been scuppered.

      • It’s still meant Astana are subject to the bans on tramadol, cortisone abuse and other health factors which non-member teams aren’t obliged to follow.

        Ideally the UCI would sweep up the MPCC rules and incorporate them, both the health aspect and the ethical element, this way they apply to all. The governing body is already looking at new ideas like a “fit and proper person” test and excluding those with doping convictions from team management so it’s not afraid of going beyond the WADA Code already.

        • A robust fit and proper person test would see a good few heads roll and would be most welcome (if any that fell foul were genuinely kept away from the sport which is easier said than done).

    • It’s more important to stress that all this wouldn’t have been an issue if Astana hadn’t had two positive tests. The teams you mentioned haven’t escaped sanction due to non-membership, they’ve escaped it by not having riders caught doping.

  2. Thanks for the excellent insight, as ever. I have to admit to having the strong suspicion that Astana joined the MPCC to look like an ethical cycling team, rather than because they are an ethical cycling team.

    I have somehow always imagined that Vino’s anti-doping stance in private would be ‘just don’t get caught…’ – something that the Iglinsky brothers clearly couldn’t manage.

    But still I’m thus all the more glad that they joined the MPCC because there’s real consequences for the team – and thus some of the risk of doping is transferred from the riders to the team structure – which should mean that teams are more likely to try to actively prevent riders doping, rather than just looking surprised when the get caught.

    So as murky as it seems, I’m still all for the MPCC. Keep up the good work…

  3. It is Astana, you know, the team of the dodgy team manager, endless doping problems and sponsored by a nation hardly renowned for its high moral values. If the licensing committee of the UCI had any balls, despite the financial lose, the team would be given their marching orders. Won’t happen I know, but until such time as examples are made, we will continue to see the reputation our sport dragged down.

    Maybe it has the reputation it deserves.

    • “…a nation hardly renowned for its high moral values.”
      You hardly “know 2 people from Kazakhstan, one of which is a fake one named Borat, the other one Vino, and make consumptions about the “moral values” of a whole nation? Sorry , I have to call that justcracist bullshit.

      • Well to be fair his statement was more referring to the nation & not the people of the nation.
        As quick search will show you that, indeed, Kazakhastan is not renowned for having traditional western high moral values.
        Just looking at a corruption Index, and the nation is 140/177 scoring a massive 26/100…….food for thought.

        • “High moral values” of “a nation”… Lovely! So vintage, I’d say 19th century more or less, the cradle of romantic nationalism, People’s Spirit, and pioneer cycling, indeed.
          We nowadays use something like an “Index” because it self-defines what it measures, and it’s not “moral values”, feel assured. If “a nation” can really have something like that.

          That said, I totally agree that Astana has the reputation it deserves.

          But I see an equally serious problem of credibility with those teams who may *not* have the reputation they deserve… As always, assuming that we are speaking of “credibility” as the quality of being trusted *properly*, and not the quality of inspiring any belief by any means.
          There are (and there have been) sponsors, in pro cycling, which are more or less directly related to specific persons whose “moral values” could hardly be defined as “high”.
          And teams who got their good share of recent “doping problems”.

          Besides, positivities aren’t the only element to be taken into account, on the contrary, they may even be deceptive: sometimes a not-exactly-positive-as-such reveals much more of a dangerous power relation than a positive test on *targeted* riders.
          To change usual patterns, I won’t speak of the “Big American Fraud”. Instead, let’s look at the history of a famous Spanish team, which says a lot about the subject: some investigations, many connections, but really a few sanctioned positive tests in some 25 years. With an impressive percentage of positivity cases which ended up in acquittal, reduced sanction or lack of sanction. From international institutions, not Spanish ones.

          We have police reports and confessions which suggest that one of the apparently cleanest teams in cycling history wasn’t exactly such (to say the least): are they any better because they can break the cause/consequence chain between doping and positive tests or sanctions? Only one adverse finding in the last seven year, and the rider could demonstrate it wasn’t due to doping, but to a contaminated supplement; so he eventually received a reduced few months sanction (note that he was in a dispute with the team, when he was found positive; but let’s not get conspiranoic). Or should we assume that, since those investigations are quite old, those same managers changed their stance meanwhile and decided that now they go clean? Like Madiot, no?

          Hence, we shuld be very careful. Sometimes positivities mean that you’re being watched carefully, and if you’re aware of that, you may even be doping LESS than other apparently untarnished teams. That’s even more so in a “targeting” control system.
          Am I saying that Astana shouldn’t be held responsible for the brothers’ positivities? Absolutely not, I’m not suggesting that. I strongly support the idea of team responsibility, I consider a voluntary team suspension very opportune, and I find quite unpleasant the way they moved along – and around – the rules they chose (something that showed, along the way, some problems with WT rankings… Ok, it implies that not every event has the same value, but it contains impressive disproportion: MPCC + WT may really have crazy effects, it must be regulated otherwise if the system is supposed to be implemented as compulsory).

          All the same, I doubt that the specific facts we have now really show that Astana is doping especially more than most teams. So it would be unfair to apply any kind of special punishment. I’ve got a strong feeling of smoke and mirrors…

        • Of course only the West would have the traditional western high moral values that prevented such atrocities as the carving of Africa, Holocaust, trans-Atlantic slave trade, opium war, trail of tears forced march, and the full subjugation of the population of 2 American continents.

      • Vitus. Sorry to pop you rather high handed and somewhat disrespectful comments about what I do and do not know. I know neither Vino not Borat so you are wrong even on that account. I have a habit of only commenting on subject areas I know something about. I doubt however you will be gracious enough to apologize for allowing your fingers to rule your head. James. much obliged for a balanced response. The type of response which makes this blog so informative.

    • +1 Sadly, the very state that pro cycling is in causes a blind eye to issues like these. And that state was caused (not to discount the economic crisis) by doping scandals and chicanery just like this. With 17(?) teams battling for 18 World Tour spots, as long as your team’s got big money, you’re going to be welcomed, dodgy or not.

  4. The Mouvement Pour un Cyclisme Crédible (MPCC), mandatory race suspension is a move forward.
    Good for Astana.
    This rule creates more needed peer pressure.
    UCI should adopt that rule.
    A second offense of 2 violations in 12 months should require loss of their license.
    At least make sure your team does not have more than one cheat.

  5. +1 Andy
    Missing Beijing and popping for the fine is probably what Every Team Would Rather Do. Vino continues to spit on the sport. No respect.

    • Astana should be obliged to also cover the costs, including all expenses, for a pro-conti team to contest the missed events as part of the fine. If they would prefer to miss an event, or more than one, at least they shouldn’t be better off than had they contested it.

  6. It is _________, you know, the team of the dodgy team manager, endless doping problems and sponsored by a nation hardly renowned for its high moral values.

    Fill in the blank with the name of any professional team.

    • Perhaps Katusha’s results reflect that!

      What seem sad is that Nibali finds himself on a team which finds itself under a microscope so to speak.
      But they all have choices: team owners, managers, and riders

  7. Anonymous. It is Astana that happen to be in the news today. Tomorrow or next week who knows. That the sport has an endemic problem is self evident. The question is how should the governing body best deal with this unsustainable situation ? My view is that tough action is required, with finance playing no part in the decision making process. Deal with teams and management structures which are overloaded with those who have escaped real justice. Increase the length of doping bans. Do not allow anyone found guilty of a doping offence to tarnish the sport again, in any capacity. I could go on but you get the picture. Until such times as the sport makes serious attempts to resolves these issues, it will continue to be seen in the same light as pro wrestling by the general public and as a result constantly fail to attract major new sponsorship.

    • Have to bear in mind that its within the UCI’s remit to impose certain rulings, but not necessarily others.

      OK, so the new version of the WADA Code provides for up to 4 years for a first ADRV – its previously been 2 years. But it provides for reduction of up to 75% of that term if the athlete fully co-operates with the AD body and offers up details of enablers, suppliers etc.

      The UCI have to work within that framework as cycling sits under the umbrella of the WADA Code, otherwise the first athlete to challenge at CAS will win and that’ll completely undermine the UCI and the legitimacy of their AD governance. Furthermore up till now its not been down to the UCI to issue the final sanction: that has sat with the national cycling fed of the licence-holder who’s being held up for the ADRV, or with the associated AD agency for that country if such an arrangement exists (it didnt for Czech Republic and Kreuziger’s hearing, for example). Same with IAAF etc.

      Which is why its going to be very interesting to see how the tribunal Cookson wants to get set up, will work, to take this responsibility out of the hands of national bodies who are often influenced in protecting their biggest stars….The rider will still have the right to appeal a judgement of guilty and associated sanction to CAS, but in theory it could work out better for the sport.

      It’ll also be interesting to see what comes out of the CIRC report and its recommendations – and how readily they could be implemented.

      • its going to be very interesting to see how the tribunal Cookson wants to get set up, will work,
        An in-house tribunal will make Kreuziger’s case handling look tame. Meanwhile, athletes the UCI favors will continue to make the sport look like a joke.

        It’ll also be interesting to see what comes out of the CIRC report
        They’ve already announced they want a reduced ban for Armstrong. That’s enough to abandon any idea there is something credible going to come out of their paper-making exercise.

        Cookson is on the way to making anti-doping even more secretive. We never even saw a 2013 CIRC report.

        • “It’ll also be interesting to see what comes out of the CIRC report
          They’ve already announced they want a reduced ban for Armstrong. That’s enough to abandon any idea there is something credible going to come out of their paper-making exercise.”

          Hadn’t seen that, but they could hardly suggest an increased ban, could they?

          • Sorry Sam, I think you have some acronyms mixed up.
            CIRC: UCI’s commission to document cycling’s “dark time” and providing a vehicle to get Armstrong’s ban reduced. Nick, they could have let the ban stand. Instead, their report isn’t apparently complete and already letting the world know Armstrong’s ban is too harsh.

            CADF: UCI’s now-vanishing anti-doping foundation. They had a 2012 report that was very insightful, except nobody’s numbers ever matched. (UCI’s testing numbers did not fit with WADA’s reported numbers.)

          • Er no, channel_zero, sorry but I think its you who’s getting a little mixed up

            You wrote ‘We never even saw a 2013 CIRC report’

            CIRC were not created until Jan 2014. So how can they have a 2013 report?

            Presumably you meant CADF. In which case, it is you who got the organisations confused.

  8. If you were a clean rider on Astana – wouldn’t you be having a word in their ear? Alternatively, you could just turn a blind eye and Omerta rules the roost once more…

    Or in fantasy, wouldn’t it be great if someone from Astana had phoned the “hotline” and this resulted in targeted tests of the iglinsky brothers. Could just as easily have happened that way.

    • L’Equipe have a good piece on the Tour of Almaty today, following Nibali around the Kazakh city before and after the race. He’s very interested in the story, “tell me everything” he asks team staff. But what can he say? Slam it and he’s shining an embarrassing spotlight on his employers, ignore it and the Sicilian is dabbling in omertà.

        • Iglinskiy’s single best result– besides Nibali, Purito was also in his finest form at the time. Really bad to think such a recent classic may have been tainted by doping. Perhaps Astana has done enough for L-B-L? Vino has now bought one, and (as boss) likely stolen one outright.

          • Sorry- Vino was not boss then was he? He won gold in London later that season, which may have been HIS most damaging transgression, all things considered. I was thinking he was the Astata boss already, because of the story that ciruculated about him calling Iglinskiy the night before L-B-L to tell him he could win.

  9. Sam. I agree with all your points. Of course there are regulations, obstacle’s, other bodies, and legalities involved. My point was that to make any real progress there should be a clear pathway to achieve the desired outcome. Everything is possible once the destination and objectives are clear. The UCI has spent years floundering around the sports problems without either determination or a clear vision. The results of this poor leadership are clear for all to see in the form of a continuous flow of bad news.

    I concede that Cookson appears to be moving in the right direction, and a resolution will not come overnight. But for the good of the sport, an end to the duplicity and dishonesty can not come soon enough.

    As an extra observation. There are an increasing number of pro tour teams who’s strong leadership hopefully influences outcomes, the evidence supports this. None of these teams is owned or managed by those with a dubious or unsavoury past. There is an obvious lesson there for those who really want progress.

  10. I can’t fault Astana at all as they worked entirely within the confines of the established rules (ignoring the EPO part of course). Remember Iglinskiy could have remained silent, waiting for his B-sample to return, possibly allowing the team to race in Bejing. The responsibility is placed wholly on team management and we’re surprised they found an option that better suits their interests? I sense a lot of (arguably justified) bias against Astana Team.

    It came at an awkward time on the calander, but the important thing is that they ultimately upheld their agreement.

    • I think the question raised is around the timing. Had he waited for the B sample, knowing it would confirm the A sample, then the next race missed would be the Tour Down Under. He also held off owning up long enough so that they didn’t miss Lombardy and Almaty.

      From an outsider it certainly looks like the timing was perfect for them to miss a race they didn’t want to do while enabling them to race the important races to the team. That this could be seen as cynical seems fairly clear

  11. Related question: I understand the positive test was from August 1st correct? Does this mean that the positive is likely stem from his use of EPO during the Tour? Is it possible to tell from the test result?

    The reason I ask is that if Iglinskiy used EPO during the Tour then is it not the case that Nibali benefited (albeit indirectly) from a teammates’ use of PEDs?

    If so, then if we’re talking collective punishment should Nibali/Astana’s be stripped of the Tour victory…?

    In other words did Nibali not obtain an unfair advantage over other competitors whose teams were not using EPO?

    • This is Guessing with a capital G but if he was using EPO in August, it was micro-dosing and they caught him when he was “glowing”, taking small amounts but still enough to get caught. In other words it was fresh in his system. It certainly wouldn’t linger from July. Whether he was on it during the Tour is something we can’t know.

      • In his bi-weekly column for Friesch Dagblad, Lieuwe Westra writes of M. Iglinsky:

        “In France he surprised me. The whole season I only saw DNFs after his name, and then all of a sudden he’s making us all suffer on the bike. And he was the only one of the nine team members not to participate in the pre-Tour training camp. There I saw lots of guys get better quickly, but that’s logical when you train at altitude.”

        Other small nuggets: Valentin’s positive is no disaster: he’s only on the team because Maxim won a bet (by winning a race), and he’s sure that the brothers themselves, not the team, procured EPO.


        • I saw that in the Dutch press earlier today. Would he have expressed suspicion if Iglinskiy hadn’t been tested?

          As for the race, it was the Tour of Almaty and Maxim’s win ensured the team took on Valentin as well. Turned out to be a good example of why you should recruit riders on merit, not because of a bet.

          • True, it costs nothing to pile on the Bros. Iglinsky now, after the fact.

            I got the sense that the column is an attempt to offer an insider’s explanation of the headlines – an “it’s not what it seems” pre-emptive response of sorts. It’s also his end-of-season (now ending early – thanks, Maxim!) wrap-up. He says he feels a bit duped because he was busy making sacrifices in training (hill repeats, hyperbaric tents) after being summoned to a pair of Italian races, but he understands the team decision. And while his hard-partying past is well-documented, and he freely took lots of pills which would be banned for a pro cyclist, now it’s only iron and vitamin pills (and everyone takes those!) and he gets his highs from winning yellow jerseys.

            In other words, not much new as far as standard responses go. So one can treat it as a Rorschach test and project however much or little credibility on to it as they wish.

  12. Inrg…just a thought (I’ve lost count now this year already) but how about a comparison piece between how many guys have been caught out doping since Cookson took over, and how the UCI compares under his stewardship in terms of degree of punishment handed out, as opposed to his predecessors and the perceived ‘relaxed doping’ stance that existed prior to the new dawn of clean cycling in the last 18 months? I appreciate that it might be hard to compare punishment with punishment etc but it would be interesting to see the numerical scale of punished offences over the last few years… When you strip away names, places and circumstances the numbers and the numbers only might reveal the reality of whether doping is being taken seriously by the governing bodies. In other words how many guys have been identified through doping controls and how quickly have they been punished and to what degree (speed of sentence and consequent ban vs appeal and continued ability to earn a wage and race whilst being under suspicion).

  13. There’s a sound analogy to be made here with rules regulating the international conduct of states, no?

    Treaties governing environmental practices or the exploitation of resources straddle a tension between state self-interest and the collective benefit of regulation. In the same way, the MPCC rules try to bring credibility to a stage driven by individual interest. As a further corollary, the MPCC rules can afford to be tighter because they’re voluntary.

    At what point, INRNG, are you comfortable drawing the line of realism? Is it not perhaps acceptable that we have Astana adopting the rules but playing them to their favour in this way, than not having them at all? Can we rely on the collective pressure of other teams subscribed to the MPCC to call the behaviour into question?

      • Legeay is right. Astana complied to the MPCC. The obsession with doping and finding faults with everything as long as this makes someone look conspicious is not in the least helpful. Astana has other responsibilities, too. They have to make a decision that works the best for everyone – the team (including the other riders), sponsors, the MPCC. And they did that. They could have just raced on, Iglinsky could have stayed silent. The way it is now is to me the best in a bad situation.

  14. Back to the MPCC and the self imposed sanction.

    Presumably part of the sanction is punishment, but do the rules also stipulate any actions during this non racing period?

    ie review of systems / procedures etc to try and limit this sort of thing happening again?

  15. UCI have the right under their rules to fine team Astana up to 100,000 Swiss francs for a no-show in Beijing. What might be called an unintended additional sanction of being an MPCC member due to the MPCC rules not aligning with the UCI’s.

    • As said in the piece, there’s the precedent of Ag2r where the UCI agreed to let them miss the Dauphiné without the fine. But there’s no certainty this is repeated, Brian Cookson/UCI seem annoyed by the MPCC and if they want to ensure the primacy of the UCI rules, they might make a point of fining Astana.

    • Oh Yes and this is a big, big part of the problem! When I read things like “traditional high western morals” and that riders shouldn’t ride for “dubios teams” … Oh my! What do you say to everyone working for companies that in the last years were found to conduct themselves not in this high western standard of morality (for example Amazon, Ikea and a neverending list)? Should they quit their job, give back their salary, pay a fine and be ashamed?

  16. Interesting piece. The sooner the UCI itself punishes teams for doping offences, the better.

    Small typo in paragraph two – “small sprint” rather than “small print”

  17. One thing not really covered here is WHY Astana would want to delay starting their self-imposed suspension. As InnerRing says, one advantage for Astana is because of the delay they are now able to attend their the Tour of Almaty, their home tour. I have read elsewhere that not attending Almaty could have had serious funding consequences for the team. To be fair to Astana, it would have been a very brave call for them to miss Almaty if this was likely to threaten the team’s financial viability.

    Of course, the flip side of this remark is that for many years teams (implicitly and even actively) encouraged drug use to improve their finances…

    • The Tour of Almaty is their only home race and imagine the humiliation if they cannot ride it. The public, the invited politicians, the sponsor VIPs would all be asking questions.

      In the end it all worked out fine, Astana rider Lutsenko won the race and Vincenzo Nibali was paraded around.

Comments are closed.