Astana considering new leader for 2025 after Mark Cavendish's retirement: "Why not Simon Yates, João Almeida..."

Mark Cavendish has already extended his career into 2024 after announcing his retirement almost exactly one year ago, but this will certainly not happen once again. Hence, Astana is looking to reinforce itself for the 2025 season with a new leader and a few surprising names are in the mind of Alexandre Vinokourov.

“We are looking to a GC rider and a sprinter because Mark [Cavendish] is stopping. We are already on the road for a second sponsor and to go up with our budget,” Vinokourov said in an interview with GCN. “We have found someone for a sponsor and we hope to make an announcement at the Tour de France. The team budgets are going up every year and we need to survive with a second sponsor. We need to be competitive. We are on the road with the second sponsor. It’s close."

The team was once the great dominator of Grand Tours within pro cycling with the likes of Alberto Contador and Vincenzo Nibali among a big list of former leaders, but cycling has changed and so have the budgets near the top of the sport. Currently, UAE Team Emirates is a good example of a team with such massive budget that they sign every year more leaders and world-class young riders without actually losing what they already have.

Astana have to adapt, specially with a relegation now likely at the end of the 2025 season where they will most likely be taken out of the World Tour due to the lack of UCI points. But still, there is hope, and the team is looking to invest on a new strong Grand Tour leader this winter. “Why not Simon Yates, João Almeida... I don’t know if he’s on the market but there might be a solution. We will see." Almeida does currently have a contract with UAE until 2026, but more and more contracts are being broken in the sport.

However Vinokourov is still mainly focused in the present, with the team looking to support Mark Cavendish to a record-breaking Tour de France win. He recently won at the Tour de Hongrie, raising team spirits at a key moment of the season. “There won’t be a GC rider at the Tour de France. We’ll chase the stage wins with Mark and then we’ll see with Lutsenko, maybe try and jump in breakaways for more stages."

“He (Cavendish, ed.) did Turkey and then Tour de Hongrie, won his stage and he’s in good shape. Like always, races are a big objective for Mark. His form is going up and he’s doing a training camp at Sierra Nevada, and he’s working well. We’ll see what it feels like if we win. We fix our goals, we work hard and we believe. That’s the most important."

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