Astana Pro Team
Astana Pro Team is a professional road bicycle racing team sponsored by the Samruk-Kazyna, a coalition of state-owned companies from Kazakhstan and named after its capital city Astana.
Astana attained UCI ProTeam status in its inaugural year, 2007. Following a major doping scandal involving Kazakhstani rider Alexander Vinokourov, team management was terminated and new management brought in for the 2008 season. The team was then managed by Johan Bruyneel, former team manager of U.S. Postal/Discovery Channel team. Under Bruyneel the ethical nature of the team did not improve, although Astana in this period was very successful. With a lineup including Grand Tour winner Alberto Contador, as well as runner-up Andreas Klöden the results were there, however the team was on the verge of financial collapse in May 2009. A battle for control of the team led to the return of Vinokourov for the 2009 Vuelta a España caused Bruyneel and at least fourteen of its riders to leave at the end of the 2009 season, most for Team RadioShack. Only four Spanish riders, including Contador, and most of the Kazakhs remained with the rebuilt team for 2010. Those four Spaniards all left the team for Saxo Bank–SunGard in 2011.
When Contador left the team after the 2010 season, the Spanish faction of the team declined, to be replaced by an Italian element; in 2011 and 2012, the team signed Enrico Gasparotto, Mirco Lorenzetto, Francesco Masciarelli, Jacopo Guarnieri, Francesco Gavazzi, Simone Ponzi, and Fabio Aru, while in the same period of time David de la Fuente, Daniel Navarro, Jesús Hernández, Benjamín Noval, Óscar Pereiro, and Josep Jufré resigned, so that by the beginning of the 2012 season there were no Spanish riders of the team. In 2013, the team signed Valerio Agnoli, Andrea Guardini, Alessandro Vanotti, and Vincenzo Nibali, who immediately won Tirreno–Adriatico and the Giro d’Italia. Then Nibali wore the leader’s jersey more than any other Italian in the history of the Vuelta (13 stages out of 21), but lost first place to American Chris Horner (RadioShack-Nissan). In 2014, Vincenzo Nibali won the Tour de France and became the sixth cyclist who have won the three Grand Tours. In August the team announced they had signed Lars Boom (LottoNL–Jumbo), Luis León Sánchez (Caja Rural–Seguros RGA), Davide Malacarne (Direct Énergie) & Diego Rosa (Androni–Sidermec–Bottecchia) for the 2015 season. On August 20, the team announced the signing of Rein Taaramäe (Cofidis) on a one-year deal. With the 2014 addition of Michele Scarponi and in 2015, Dario Cataldo, the team at the beginning of the 2015 season, had a plurality Italian element, with 9 riders out of 25, and only 5 Kazakh riders remaining.