Astana announces that Roman Kireyev has retired; Vinokourov appears free to return
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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Astana announces that Roman Kireyev has retired; Vinokourov appears free to return

by Shane Stokes at 7:34 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Timing of resignation from team queried with UCI

Roman KireyevOne day after the UCI confirmed that it had been told that Roman Kireyev was no longer on the Astana roster, the team has issued a statement saying that the rider has decided to leave the sport.

“On Friday 19 August 2011, the rider of Pro Team Astana Roman Kireyev informed the management of Pro Team Astana about his decision to finish his career as professional cyclist,” it stated in the release.

“This information wasn't unexpected for the management of the team, because Roman already discussed this step with sport directors few months ago.

“Roman explained that he suffered too much from his back injury, which he got last year, and this situation had became unbearable to him. Pro Team Astana informed this case to the UCI, which confirmed the reception of the contract resignation on Monday, 22 August 2011.”

The rider himself was not quoted in the release.

Today’s statement comes just eleven days after the 24 year old finished 40th in the Tour de l’Ain. His retirement has led to some questions as it effectively solves a problem created when Alexandre Vinokourov reversed his own decision to retire, bringing the number of Astana riders to 29 and thus exceeding the UCI’s limitation of 28 riders.

The roster had been boosted by one when Andrey Kashechkin completed a mid-season transfer from Lampre.

Vinokourov had announced in July that he was quitting the sport due to the fractured femur he sustained in the Tour de France, but four days ago he said that he could return. “If everything goes well, I may compete in the Giro di Lombardia, which is the last race of the season and could be the last race to end my career. This would be also a last occasion for me to contribute to increase the UCI points of Pro Team Astana and for the Kazakh Federation, in anticipation of the selections for the Olympic Games.”

When the issue of the team being over the maximum limit of riders was raised, he suggested it had not acted properly in signing Kashechkin in his place. “I'm still a rider. I have a contract in force,” he told l’Equipe. “I am particularly disappointed by what has just taken place in secret at my expense.”

The UCI confirmed to VeloNation yesterday that it was seeking clarification from Astana on the issue, and also on the removal of Kireyev from the team roster. Its spokesman Enrico Carpani didn’t wish to comment specifically on the latter case, but confirmed that UCI rules were in general very strict about the circumstances under which a rider can be dismissed from a team.

He then commented today on the team statement, saying that the announcement that the rider had himself decided to retire appeared to pave the way for both Vinokourov and Kashechkin to be on the team. “If the rider has taken that decision himself, it does bring the team back to 28 riders, removing the problem,” said Carpani.

The timing of the matter plus the fact that the rider was racing less than two weeks ago does raise inevitable questions, though, as it would with any team. Because of its role in ensuring employment laws within cycling are followed correctly, VeloNation has sought information from the UCI as to what procedures it follows to verify situations such as these. A reply is expected later today.


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