Astana-Premier Tech on the front of the peloton during stage 4 of the 2021 Tour de Suisse.

It was either Vinokourov or Premier Tech, and Astana chose Vino

The reason for Premier Tech’s departure turns out to be disagreement over the imminent return of controversial figure Alexandre Vinokourov.

by Kit Nicholson

photography by Cor Vos

Thursday saw the shock announcement that Premier Tech will leave the role of co-title sponsor of Astana-Premier Tech, citing a difference in ‘vision’. Two days later, we have a (real) reason.

“At the end of the day, the thing that they wouldn’t agree on was Vinokourov,” a source close to Astana-Premier Tech told Cyclingnews. “Premier Tech wanted him gone and his involvement in the team was the overriding point that the two sides couldn’t agree on. Astana have chosen to lose a major financial backer to save him, and while it hasn’t been announced that he’s coming back yet but it’s a no-brainer.”

Former rider and current controversial figure, Alexandre Vinokourov, was removed from his role as team principal just a few days before the Tour de France, but it seems the Kazakh side of the team’s management want to give him a second chance, whatever the consequences. 

“Towards the end of the Tour, everything looked good,” another source told Cyclingnews. “There had been productive meetings between the shareholders, and the team were more or less good to go with staff having received proposals for 2022. Then in the last two weeks, there were a lot of discussions and it became clear that it wasn’t going to work. What’s surprising is that the Kazakhs agreed to remove Vinokourov from the role at the beginning of the summer but have now turned around and were willing to lose a major sponsor. Basically, Kazakhstan turned around to Premier Tech and said ‘we don’t want you involved anymore, we don’t want you in the team’.”

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