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Astana

Established: 2007

2009 SUMMARY: Of the team’s 21 victories in ‘09, the stand-out has to be Alberto Contador’s success at the Tour. The Spaniard spent much of the season, and that race, trying to assert his authority – both within the team and over Lance Armstrong. In the end, he took 11 wins and the Texan won nothing. That was only half the story, though. Wage payments were erratic, making the riders more uncertain of who and what they were riding for. The soap opera continued with RadioShack’s emergence – resulting in the departure of half the roster – and Contador’s ‘will he stay or will he go?’ dilemma.

LOOKING AHEAD: The debate over Contador’s future is sure to drag on through 2010. During that time, the Spaniard should start as favourite for a third Tour title and win plenty of other races besides. It’ll also be interesting to see how Alexandre Vinokourov fits into the Astana squad, given the Tour won’t want him back after his doping disgrace there in 2007 and the associated negative PR.

THE LINE-UP: Astana came into the transfer market late after losing half of their team to Johan Bruyneel’s new outfit, but Óscar Pereiro, Andriy Grivko, Gorazd Stangelj and Paolo Tiralongo are all good signings. Despite this, it still looks like Contador will have a weaker squad to back him up in July.

One to watch

The new team management will be under the most scrutiny. Sanquer cleaned up the mess at Festina in his tenure from 1999-2001 and faces the not-dissimilar task of making the Kazakh team more credible. He’ll be assisted by 1979 Olympic silver medallist and
directeur sportif Giuseppe Martinelli. If credibility is restored, this pair will want to do their utmost to persuade Contador to stay in 2011.

Riders

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