Astana have become the latest team to suffer visa problems ahead of the Giro d'Italia. The Kazakh team have had to withdraw Maxim Iglinskiy and Alexey Lutsenko from their line-up after they failed to secure visas in time for the start in Belfast.
"Maxim Iglinskiy and Alexey Lutsenko submitted passports for UK visas to the British embassy in Paris on April 17. They received no response after two weeks, nor were their passports returned – leaving them off the roster and then stranding them in Nice, away from their families in Kazakhstan," Astana general manager Alexandr Vinokourov said in a team press release.
The two riders will be replaced by Borut Bozic and Janez Brajkovic. Bozic hasn't raced since Amstel Gold on April 20, after riding a full cobbled classics campaign. Brajkovic recently abandoned on stage one of the Tour de Romandie after injuring his knee in the prologue. They will be riding in support of Michele Scarponi. Andrey Zeits is the remaining Kazakh rider in the team, after applying through a different Embassy.
"We are disappointed to leave two of Kazakhstan’s brightest cycling federation riders off the World Tour Giro roster, and find silence and the non-response of the British Embassy in Paris such a contrast to the efficient work done by their colleagues in Germany for our processed and registered Kazakh rider Andrey Zeits."
Astana aren't the only team to have had issues with getting visas for the opening three days of the corsa rosa. Nicolas Roche recently reported in his blog in the Irish Independent that his team-mates Nikolay Trusov, Ivan Rovny and Edward Beltran are also without visas.
Team Colombia have also endured the same problems, with the team being forced out of the Tour of Turkey as they had no passports to travel on. They were finally able to breath a sigh of relief at the end of April when the visas began to come through.
It's understood that there may be several other riders having difficulty obtaining the necessary paperwork to enter the UK.