Alexandr Shefer has returned to Astana Qazaqstan as lead sports director after a season at Gazprom-RusVelo. The Kazakhstani had previously been part of the team’s management from 2007 but left at the end of 2020 when Premier Tech came on board as a co-sponsor.
Premier Tech sought to remove Alexandre Vinokourov as general manager ahead of this year’s Tour de France only for the team’s Kazakhstani backers to restore him to the helm. Premier Tech has since ceased sponsorship of the team, which has been rebranded as Astana Qazaqstan for 2022.
Shefer was under contract for 2022 with Gazprom-Rusvelo, but Astana announced on Wednesday that they had reached an agreement that would allow him to re-join the team with immediate effect. Dmitri Sedoun, who left Astana at the same time as Shefer in 2020, remains as team manager of Gazprom-RusVelo.
"I am really happy to reunite with Astana Qazaqstan Team after a year outside the project," Shefer said.
"I feel myself full of energy and inspiration ahead of the new season. I am grateful to the management of Gazprom-RusVelo for the time I spent in this team, for the new experience I got there and for understanding and flexibility in the question of my return to Astana Qazaqstan Team."
The 50-year-old Shefer spent a decade as a professional rider, lining out for Italian squads Navigare, Asics, Riso Scotti, Alessio and Saeco before hanging up his wheels in 2003. He was in the team car with Giuseppe Martinelli when Vincenzo Nibali won the Tour de France in Astana colours in 2014.
Nibali has re-joined Astana for 2022, in what could be the final season of his professional career, while Miguel Angel Lopez returns after an unhappy one-year hiatus at Movistar. Other new signings include Gianni Moscon, Joe Dombrowski and David de la Cruz.
"The new season is coming, and the team will change a lot for the upcoming year, it is going to set the new ambitious goals and I am really looking forward to start working again side by side with Alexandre Vinokourov and all my teammates and colleagues I've known for a long time," Shefer said.
Vinokourov welcomed the return of his long-time collaborator. Shefer will again link up with Martinelli and Stefano Zanini, while Orlando Maini and Mario Manzoni have also joined the management team for 2022.
"I am sure that the arrival of Alexandr Shefer will strengthen our Sports Director group and will help the team to come back on the winning way," said Vinokourov.
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