Just two days before the start of the Tour de France, Astana-Premier Tech has fired Alexandr Vinokourov, founder and longtime principal of the team. In his place, Giuseppe Martinelli and Canadian former professional cyclist Steve Bauer will assume the team principal role that Vinokourov held for “the foreseeable future”.
A statement from Astana says that the decision comes from the team’s Board of Directors. According to L’Equipe, 47-year-old Vinokourov, the head of Astana-Premier Tech since its founding in 2013, was removed for “personal reasons.” Vinokourov allegedly refutes his removal and is believed to be taking legal action to be reinstated in his role as team principal.
In an official statement, Yana Seel, Astana – Premier Tech’s managing director said: “We can confirm that Alexandr Vinokurov will not be present at the Tour de France this year as he will step down as Sports Team Principal. Alexandr still remains part of the team but he will not be in charge of the team’s sporting operations at the moment and will move into another role.”
Bauer’s new role
“During this period Giuseppe Martinelli and Steve Bauer will work well together to lead the team from a performance standpoint and guide our riders to success, starting here at the Tour de France where Steve will work alongside Dmitry Fofonov [team performance manager] and Stefano Zanini [sports director],” said Seel, who will work alongside the pair to coordinate the team’s day-to-day sporting operations.
Bauer, who won Canada’s first Olympic medal in road cycling, multiple national championships and competed in 11 Tours de France (wearing the yellow jersey 14 times), kicked off a career in team management in 2007. He managed and owned a UCI Continental team from 2008-2010 and a UCI Pro Continental men’s team from 2011 to 2012.
Bauer then moved to Mattamy National Cycling Centre in Milton, On., where he worked as the Coordinator and Head Coach for Cycling. In 2016, he joined CCC (then BMC Racing) in the role of Director of VIP Services and moved up to sporting manager for the team in 2020. In late 2020, Bauer began working with to Astana – Premier Tech, taking on the role of sports director. His new role as team principal will see him assume a higher management position, leading the team and guiding it through the whirlwind Tour de France experience.
Astana-Premier Tech and the twenty-two other teams competing in the Tour de France are set to kick off the first stage of the Tour on Saturday, June 26.