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As reported last week, Tony Rominger will not take over as team manager of the Astana team. That role will instead be filled by his Swiss colleague, and former organiser of the Tour of Switzerland and the Tour of Romandy, Marc Biver, while Walter Godefroot will work for the team in an advisory role, with Laurent Dufaux, it was today announced, acting as a directeur sportif.
Although initially linked with the role of Astana manager, Rominger will instead be employed as a consultant to the Kazakh cycling federation, he told procycling on Wednesday, and will continue in his role as agent for the likes of Andreas Klden, Patrik Sinkewitz and Cadel Evans, and in cycling development at Craft clothing.
However, Rominger says he will still work closely with the Astana squad, through his links as agent for the team's stars Alexandre Vinokourov and Andrei Kashechkin.
"It's been a hard year for both Alexandre and Andrei," Rominger told procycling, "and now they are looking forward to starting again next season, when the team will be a Kazakh-registered squad. This year is nearly over, but it was a surprise that Andrei came back so strong at the D-Tour after missing the Tour de France, and now Alexandre will be riding the Vuelta, and targeting the world championships [in Austria in September]."
Since the team's former sponsor, Liberty Seguros, pulled out of the sport in the wake of former team manager Manolo Saiz's involvement with the Operacion Puerto blood doping affair, the Kazakh president, Danial Akhmetov, stepped in with main sponsor Astana, a consortium of Kazakh businesses grouped under the name of the country's capital city. One of the conditions of Akhmetov's decision to sponsor the team was that it will employ at least six Kazakh riders for next season.
"Alexandre in fact speaks with him on the phone every day," Rominger revealed. "He's a big sports fan, and the country is investing a lot in the sport of cycling: a new track is going to be built in Astana, and there will be a training camp established to help junior riders. I think the country has a great future in cycling."
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