Astana Qazaqstan at Paris-Nice.

Report: Vinokourov exploring sale of Astana’s WorldTour license

The lowest-ranked team in the WorldTour is drawing interest outside of Kazakhstan.

Dane Cash
by Dane Cash 05.06.2024 Photography by
Cor Vos
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Astana Qazaqstan may be among the worst-performing teams on the WorldTour this year, but according to L’Equipe, a Chinese businessman is considering buying the squad’s license and taking the helm.

The news comes shortly after team boss Alexandre Vinokourov told GCN that he was “close” to signing a new co-title sponsor. According to L’Equipe, which cited no sources, the potential acquisition by an unnamed businessman in China would see the team’s budget nearly double, which L’Equipe said would put them in the top three for budgets among WorldTour teams.

Perhaps an influx of cash – and thus, new riders – could help pull the team out of the doldrums, but it might not come in time to stave off off the looming threat of relegation. As of publication time, the Astana team is by far the lowest-placed WorldTour team on the UCI’s team rankings, sitting below multiple second-division teams as well. If the rankings were taken today, Astana not only would be relegated to the ProTeam tier, but would miss out on automatic invites to WorldTour events.

The current relegation cycle runs through the 2025 season, giving Astana some time to effect a change, but the team has clearly lost a step since the days when Vincenzo Nibali was winning Grand Tours.

According to L’Equipe, the interested buyer is willing to commit to at least five years supporting the team.

If history is any indication, the upcoming Tour de France – where so many major deals are announced – could bring more news on this front, so stay tuned in the coming weeks. The spotlight will already be on Astana as Mark Cavendish attempts to set a new record for Tour stage wins, and the potential is there for more good news if his team can secure its future for years to come.

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