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VeloNews has learned that Astana Qazaqstan riders have not been paid since the turn of the year.
According to several sources in and around the team, the riders have yet to be paid their January wages, while their February installments are supposed to be paid between February 28 and March 5. As of March 1 they have yet to arrive.
The team would not officially comment when contacted by VeloNews on Tuesday, but a team spokesperson added that a statement might be released in the coming days. Another source added that indications had been made that the rider salaries would be paid in the next few days. The team would not comment when asked for specific details by VeloNews.
It’s understood from one source that Astana regularly has payment issues at the start of the year and that the January installment is often late due to slowness at an administrative level. However, recent political instability in Kazakhstan has given these 2022 payment delays greater importance and poignancy.
The team was created in 2006 after the collapse of Alexandre Vinokourov’s Liberty Seguros team. Vinokourov is now the general manager but the team was hit by a wave of uncertainty at the start of the year when the Kazakhstan government collapsed at the start of January. The team declined to comment at the time as to whether the political instability would affect the cycling team but the squad is funded and owned by the state sovereign wealth fund, Samruk Kazyna.
VeloNews has reached out to the UCI for comment on the situation but has yet to receive a response.
The news over late wages comes on the same day that it was announced that Vincenzo Nibali would miss both Strade Bianche and Tirreno-Adriatico due to lingering health issues. The Italian tested positive for COVID-19 and missed Ruta del Sol last month. It’s not yet clear when he will return to racing.