Kirsipuu retires again, joins Astana as sports director

Estonian accepts director position on one-year assignment with Kazakh squad

TALLINN (AFP) — Estonian cyclist Jaan Kirsipuu, the Baltic state’s most successful rider, is quitting the saddle and joining Kazakh team Astana as sporting director.

“My task will be technical support and coordinating teamwork during races. I know the Astana team and that helped me get the job,” the 43-year-old told Estonian public broadcaster ERR on Monday.

He said he had inked a one-year contract with Astana, whose line-up includes 25-year-old countryman Tanel Kangert and Giro d’Italia contender Vincenzo Nibali.

After turning professional in 1993 — two years after Estonia regained its independence from the Soviet Union — Kirsipuu raced for French teams including Casino and Credit Agricole. He was a multiple-stage winner at the Tour de France and most recently won at the Tour de Helsinki in September, riding for Champion System. Kirsipuu was the only rider other than Lance Armstrong to wear yellow in the 1999 Tour de France when he won stage 1 and led the overall for six days.

He retired initially in 2006, only to return to racing three years later.