The Astana team has unveiled its new jersey and shorts, adding a touch of yellow and a new second sponsor to the sky blue colours for 2014.
Team manager Alexandre Vinokourov unveiled the new clothing during a press conference in Almaty, where he announced the creation of a personal charity and presented his official biography called "My Golden Career - 1998-2012".
"The blue and gold national colors of Kazakhstan are unique in pro cycling, and they make our riders very distinct in the peloton. We are fortunate to remain with our main sponsor, the national welfare fund Samruk-Kazyna,” Vinokourov said via the team’s website.
"On the chest we change to the national airline Air Astana, though we retain the Expo 2017 logos on team vehicles and printed materials. For 2014 our first non-governmental sponsor Astana Motors is joined by Raimbek Group, a diverse holding company with more than 20 years of active and successful business ventures in Kazakhstan and around the world.”
Several photos published on Twitter by the team show a pink aura around the sponsor logos but these areas are actually white. The pink is caused by poor light when the photographs were taken.
Vino’s golden career
Vinokourov raced between 1998 and 2012, ending on a high by winning the gold medal in the London 2012 road race ahead of Colombia’s Rigoberto Uran.
His palmares includes victories at the 2006 Vuelta a España, Liege-Bastogne-Liege in 2005 and the Criterium du Dauphine Libere in 1999 ahead of Jonathan Vaughters. It also includes a positive test for blood doping during the 2007 Tour de France for which he served a two-year ban. He was a long-term client of Dr. Michele Ferrari.
He made a comeback in 2009 and won the Giro del Trentino and Liege-Bastogne-Liege again in 2010 thanks to help from then teammate Alberto Contador. Vinokourov crashed and broke his right femur in 2011 but came back to ride the 2012 Tour de France and miraculously win gold at the Olympics.
"I sold my Olympic Specialized bicycle to pay for critical surgical operations that some very sick kids needed. So far four have gone to specialist hospitals in the former Soviet Union to get treatments, and the others are still waiting for donors. It's very specific aid to specific families who live in under-privileged circumstances," Vinokourov said of his charity.
"This summer I sold another one of my bikes after charity bike ride here in Kazakhstan and raised even more money for neonatal operations. With the opening of a charity fund we can expand our ambitions to include getting more kids to ride bikes, putting on more charity bike rides and eventually growing to work with international and governmental organizations to create more professional racing opportunities in Kazakhstan."
His biography is described as a coffee-table photo keepsake and includes many rare and unseen pictures from his years of racing. "A lot of the pictures in here are from races, but many more are from the small village of Bishkul where I grew up and from my first experiences as a cyclist in Kazakhstan,” he explained proudly.
"Those who know me know that bike racing is my life, and that the other side of the gold medal is the long road to a professional career. After so many difficult seasons of washing in a bucket outside a school dormitory, or rebuilding my form and fitness after injuries that seemed career-ending, just getting to the start line in London is a lesson I hope to share with young athletes in Kazakhstan who read this book.”