Aleksandr Vinokourov has been fired as team principal of Astana-Premier Tech on the eve of the Tour de France, his team have confirmed.
The Kazakhstani former pro has been involved with the WorldTour squad since it was founded in 2006.
But on Thursday (June 24), reports emerged that Vinokourov had been ousted just days before the start of the Tour due to “personal reasons.”
French newspaper L’Equipe said that the 47-year-old had been let go with immediate effect, with staff and riders informed via email at midnight on Thursday.
Astana have confirmed that Vinokourov has stepped down as team principal and will relinquish his management responsibilities, but that he will move into another role, which has not yet been revealed.
According to the report from L’Equipe, Vinokourov refutes the “personal reasons” and is believed to be taking legal action to be reinstated in his role as team boss.
Yana Seel, managing director of the team, said: “We can confirm that Alexandr Vinokurov will not be present at the Tour de France this year as he will step down as sports team principal. Alexandr still remains part of the team but he will not be in charge of the team’s sporting operations at the moment and will move into another role. I hope that during this period Giuseppe Martinelli and Steve Bauer will work well together to lead the team from a performance standpoint and guide our riders to success, starting here at the Tour de France where Steve will work alongside Dmitry Fofonov and Stefano Zanini”
Sports director Guiseppe Martinelli has taken over in Vinokourov’s role, assisted by Canadian former pro Steve Bauer, who joined the team with new sponsor Premier Tech at the start of the season.
Past reports suggested that Vinokourov had previously been fired by Astana before being re-instated just one day later, according to eye-opening revelations from a former sports director on the team.
Dmitry Sedun, who worked for the team for 15 years, was let go in 2020 in an ongoing shake-up that has seen Canadian investment and management extend their control over the traditionally Kazakh team.
Sedun argued that although the new people in charge are successful in their own fields, they don't know a lot about bike racing, and likens it to if he was "appointed to lead the ballet troupe of the Mariinsky Theatre".
Vinokourov is believed to have had his responsibilities within the team reduced, according to Sedun, before the news that had had been let go emerged.
Vinokourov, Olympic gold medalist in 2012, retired from the peloton after the games and took up management duties with Astana in 2013, building the team into a Grand Tour-winning outfit with Vincenzo Nibali and Fabio Aru.
The team recently lost star rider Miguel Ángel López to Movistar, and now rely on the Aleksandr Vlasov and Jakob Fuglsang as their headline names.
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