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Yvon Sanquer and Alberto Contador at the 2010 Astana team presentation
Frenchman says he was hired to ensure a ProTour license, then dropped
Yvon Sanquer has objected to his premature dismissal from his position as general manager of the Astana team in a written statement today. Sanquer was appointed as general manager of Astana in late 2009 and stated he had a contract through the end of 2011 with the team. The Frenchman was replaced as general manager by Giuseppe Martinelli ahead of the 2011 season.
“I was employed by Astana as general manager in October 2009 with the primary objective of making Astana a team like the others: respectful of financial, legal and ethical regulations, all the time preserving its exceptional sporting character,” Sanquer said in a statement issued on Friday.
Sanquer came on board the Astana set-up at the end of 2009 after Johan Bruyneel and Lance Armstrong left the squad to form the new RadioShack team. However, he claims that his own status within the Astana changed as soon as its ProTour status had been secured for 2010.
“Once the team was ‘saved’ (registered for 2010), I quickly had the private conviction that the Kazakh management had hired me above all to be their moral guarantee and shop window,” Sanquer said. “I thus have the feeling that the Astana patrons’ decision to end their collaboration with me was taken early last season. I really felt that from the month of May onwards.”
Nonetheless, Sanquer said that Alberto Contador was pleased with his management of the team. The Spanish rider was allegedly prepared to continue riding for Astana in 2011 and had even requested that Sanquer remain in his role as general manager.
However, Sanquer’s contact with the upper levels of Astana management was significantly reduced after a meeting at the end of the Giro d’Italia.
“My emails asking for details of the team’s plan went without response,” Sanquer said. Although Sanquer was involved in Contador’s first place finish at July’s Tour de France, his involvement with Astana ended soon afterward.
“The end of our collaboration was relayed to me for the first time on 3 August 2010 in Belgium, a week after the end of the Tour de France,” Sanquer explained. In the intervening period, Contador had announced that he would ride for Saxo Bank in 2011. The Spaniard is currently awaiting a verdict from the Spanish federation after returning an adverse analytical finding for Clenbuterol.
Sanquer was initially contracted to serve as Astana’s general manager for 2010 and 2011. He had a contract with the team’s then management company Olympus Sarl, although from 1 January 2011 the team’s holding company is Abacanto SA. It is understood that Sanquer is to lodge an appeal on the matter with the UCI.