Astana have confirmed that Giuseppe Martinelli will no longer be working as their team manager in 2016. Martinelli will stay with the team, however, he will move into a director sportif role.
The veteran Italian team manager - whose work with riders stretches back as far as Carrera and Mercatone Uno and Marco Pantani in the 1990s - and who has been with Astana since 2010, has reportedly been replaced by Kazakhstan’s Dimitry Fofonov, a former pro who has been working as a sports director with the squad since 2013.
General manager Alexander Vinokourov reportedly made the announcement at the Astana team launch this weekend, and it was confirmed to Cyclingnews on Sunday morning by the squad’s press officer.
Martinelli has worked closely with the team’s two Italian stars, Vincenzo Nibali and Fabio Aru, overseeing, amongst other successes, the former’s victory in the Giro d’Italia in 2013 and Tour de France in 2014, and the latter’s win in the Vuelta a España in 2015.
Born in 1976, Fofonov was a professional racer between 1999 and 2012, with Collstrop, Besson Chaussures, Cofidis, Credit Agricole and finally Astana.
It is not yet clear as to why Martinelli has left his leading position, although there are unconfirmed reports he will stay on within Astana’s managerial structure. Paying tribute to Martinelli, Vinokourov told Kazakh website Sports.kz “he did a very good job and we are very grateful.”
A source close to the Astana team also said, “the change was motivated by the team wanting to have a new and younger Kazakh manager.”
The team launch also saw Fabio Aru confirmed as the Tour de France leader, with Nibali heading the squad in the Giro d’Italia. Nibali’s return to the Tour is apparently to be decided after the Italian Grand Tour.