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ONCE cycling team, (UCI team code: ONC) also known as Liberty Seguros, Liberty Seguros–Würth and in succession in its final year, Astana–Würth and Astana was a Spanish cycling team. It competed in the UCI ProTour circuit.

Johan BRUYNEEL.jpg
The team at the 1993 Tour de France
Team information
Founded1989 (1989)
Key personnel
General managerManolo Saiz
Team name history
ONCE–Deutsche Bank
Liberty Seguros
Liberty Seguros–Würth
Würth Team
Astana–Würth Team
Astana Team

On 25 May 2006, Liberty Mutual ("seguros" means "insurance" in Spanish) pulled out of primary sponsorship due to a doping scandal involving the directeur sportif, Manolo Saiz. On 2 June 2006, the team acquired a primary sponsor named Astana, after the capital of Kazakhstan. Würth was co-sponsor until 3 July 2006, withdrawing at the end of the 2006 Tour de France, in which Astana–Würth didn't compete [1] [2]. At the end of the season, Astana also withdrew due to the non-participation in the Tour. On 16 December 2006, the UCI withdrew the ProTour licence of Saiz's company, Active Bay [3].

Some riders and staff formed the Kazakhstan-based Astana Team.




The team traces its lineage to the Spanish team, ONCE, sponsored by a lottery for the blind. Manolo Saiz, one of few managers who was not a former rider, introduced more professional management, closer supervision in coaching, equipment and training. In the 2003 Vuelta he was banned from the race after insulting a motorcycle-mounted TV cameraman, his comments broadcast live.

ONCE team was known for its association with Laurent Jalabert and Alex Zülle in the 1990s, dominating spring races such as Paris–Nice, La Flèche Wallonne and the Tour de Romandie. The team won the Vuelta a España in 1995, 1996 and 1997. It dominated the 1995 Vuelta with Jalabert winning overall, the points competition and the mountains. It was also best team, with Johan Bruyneel third. Bruyneel became a directeur sportif and helped Lance Armstrong win seven consecutive Tours de France. ONCE team in the Tour de France had stage wins from Jalabert and domination in the team time trial.

Zülle won the Vuelta in 1996 and 1997 but left the team in 1998. The team signed the 1998 winner and individual time trial specialist, Abraham Olano, who challenged in the 1999 Vuelta but never won a second Grand Tour. Joseba Beloki became leader and challenged Armstrong in the 2002 and 2003 Tours.

Isidro Nozal led the 2003 Vuelta until Roberto Heras took the lead on the penultimate day. ONCE's sponsorship was so successful that brand penetration was 100% in Spain, meaning every Spaniard surveyed knew ONCE. At the end of 2003 ONCE stopped sponsorship. Saiz obtained a new sponsor, Liberty Mutual. Most of the riders stayed, including Isidro Nozal and Igor González de Galdeano. Saiz signed Heras; he did not perform well at the 2004 Tour de France but won the 2004 Vuelta after a battle with Santiago Pérez.

Liberty SegurosEdit

In the 2005 the team started with wins in the Tour Down Under through Alberto Contador and Luis León Sánchez. In the 2005 Tour the team won the stage to Mende courtesy of Marcos Antonio Serrano, reminiscent of Laurent Jalabert's win in 1995.

Alexander Vinokourov joined in 2006 for three seasons to challenge for top finish in the Tour de France. Fellow Kazakhstan riders Andrei Kashechkin, formerly of Crédit Agricole, and Sergei Yakovlev also joined.

On 25 November, Roberto Heras was fired after a urine sample from the 2005 Vuelta a España, which he had won, tested positive for the blood-boosting drug EPO. Heras was stripped of what would have been a record-breaking fourth win and banned for two years.

Sponsorship Changes and 2006 SeasonEdit

On 23 May 2006, Saiz was arrested in relation to the Operación Puerto blood doping scandal. Liberty Mutual retracted sponsorship on 25 May 2006, promising only to finance current obligations. On 2 June 2006, the team acquired a new primary sponsor - named Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan - for three years, with an option to extend to six. It was headed by a consortium of five Kazakh companies.[1][2] Long before Saiz was ensnared in Operación Puerto, the team had been notorious for doping dating back to its days as ONCE, and was considered one of the dirtiest teams in the European peloton.[3]

On June 30, 2006, Astana-Würth was excluded from the 2006 Tour de France after five riders were implicated in a doping scandal, leaving Vinokourov with three remaining teammates, below the minimum six for the Tour. Würth stopped its commitment on 3 of July.

On 26 July 2006, the five riders excluded from the Tour were cleared by Spanish officials,[4] and the team returned to competition at the Tour of Germany in August, Assan Bazayev winning the first stage. One rider, Joseba Beloki, would never ride a professional race again.

At the end of 2006, Saiz listed Astana as his team's backer. Astana also claimed to have withdrawn support due to non-participation in the Tour.[5] On 16 December 2006, the UCI withdrew the ProTour license of Saiz's Active Bay company.[6]


2003 resultsEdit

Date Race Location Winner
2003-02-04 Trofeo Alcudia   Spain Allan Davis
2003-03-15 Stage 6, Paris–Nice   France Joaquim Rodríguez
2003-04-08 Stage 2, Tour of the Basque Country   Spain Angel Vicioso
2003-04-11 Stage 4, Circuit de la Sarthe   France Allan Davis
2003-04-27 Stage 3, Vuelta a La Rioja   Spain Jan Hruška
2003-05-11 Stage 2b, Clasica a Alcobendas   Spain Joseba Beloki
2003-05-11 Overall, Clasica a Alcobendas   Spain Joseba Beloki
2003-06-07 Stage 5, Deutschland Tour   Germany José Azevedo
2003-06-08 Stage 5, Euskal Bizikleta   Spain Joseba Beloki
2003-06-16 Stage 1, Volta a Catalunya   Spain ONCE-Eroski
2003-06-22 Stage 7, Volta a Catalunya   Spain Angel Vicioso
2003-09-06 Stage 1, Vuelta a España   Spain ONCE-Eroski
2003-09-11 Stage 6, Vuelta a España   Spain Isidro Nozal
2003-09-13 Stage 8, Vuelta a España   Spain Joaquim Rodríguez
2003-09-14 Stage 7b Tour de Pologne   Poland Alberto Contador
2003-09-19 Stage 13, Vuelta a España   Spain Isidro Nozal

2004 resultsEdit

Date Race Location Winner
2004-02-01 Trofeo Mallorca   Spain Allan Davis
2004-02-04 Trofeo Manacor   Spain Allan Davis
2004-05-02 Overall, Vuelta a Castilla y León   Spain Koldo Gil
2004-05-09 Stage 3, Clasica a Alcobendas   Spain Luis Leon Sanchez
2004-05-12 Stage 1, Vuelta a Asturias   Spain Luis Leon Sanchez
2004-05-14 Stage 3, Vuelta a Asturias   Spain Carlos Barredo
2004-06-04 Stage 5, Deutschland Tour   Germany Allan Davis
2004-06-04 Stage 3, Euskal Bizikleta   Spain Angel Vicioso
2004-06-05 Stage 4b, Euskal Bizikleta   Spain Angel Vicioso
2004-06-06 Overall, Euskal Bizikleta   Spain Roberto Heras
2004-09-08 Stage 3, Tour de Pologne   Poland Allan Davis
2004-09-16 Stage 12, Vuelta a España   Spain Roberto Heras
2004-09-26 Overall, Vuelta a España     Spain Roberto Heras
2004-10-13 Milano–Torino   Italy Marcos Serrano
2004-10-14 Giro del Piemonte   Italy Allan Davis

2005 resultsEdit

Date Race Location Winner
2005-01-20 Stage 3, Tour Down Under   Australia Luis Leon Sanchez
2005-01-22 Stage 5, Tour Down Under   Australia Alberto Contador
2005-01-23 Overall, Tour Down Under     Australia Luis Leon Sanchez
2005-03-04 Stage 3, Vuelta a Murcia   Spain Allan Davis
2005-03-06 Stage 5, Vuelta a Murcia   Spain Allan Davis
2005-03-06 Overall, Vuelta a Murcia   Spain Koldo Gil
2005-03-23 Stage 3, Setmana Catalana de Ciclisme   Spain Alberto Contador
2005-03-25 Overall, Setmana Catalana de Ciclisme   Spain Alberto Contador
2005-04-08 Stage 5b, Tour of the Basque Country   Spain Alberto Contador
2005-04-10 Klasika Primavera   Spain David Etxebarria
2005-04-17 Stage 5, Vuelta a Aragon   Spain Allan Davis
2005-04-30 Stage 4, Tour de Romandie    Switzerland Alberto Contador
2005-05-08 Stage 3, Clasica a Alcobendas   Spain Luis Leon Sanchez
2005-05-14 Stage 7, Giro d'Italia   Italy Koldo Gil
2005-06-01 Stage 1, Euskal Bizikleta   Spain Angel Vicioso
2005-06-04 Stage 4a, Euskal Bizikleta   Spain Angel Vicioso
2005-07-21 Stage 18, Tour de France   France Marcos Serrano
2005-08-06 Stage 3, Eneco Tour   Netherlands Allan Davis
2005-09-01 Stage 6, Vuelta a España   Spain Roberto Heras
2005-09-04 Stage 4, Tour de l'Avenir   France Koen de Kort
2005-09-11 Stage 15, Vuelta a España   Spain Roberto Heras

2006 resultsEdit

Date Race Location Winner
2006-01-19 Stage 2, Tour Down Under   Australia Allan Davis
2006-01-20 Stage 3, Tour Down Under   Australia Carlos Barredo
2006-01-22 Stage 5, Tour Down Under   Australia Allan Davis
2006-03-11 Stage 6, Paris–Nice   France Andrey Kashechkin
2006-03-24 Stage 5, Vuelta a Castilla y León   Spain Alexander Vinokourov
2006-03-24 Overall, Vuelta a Castilla y León   Spain Alexander Vinokourov
2006-04-28 Stage 3, Tour de Romandie    Switzerland Alberto Contador
2006-06-13 Stage 4, Tour de Suisse    Switzerland Angel Vicioso
2006-06-14 Kazakhstan National Road Race Championship   Kazakhstan Andrey Kashechkin
2006-06-17 Stage 8, Tour de Suisse    Switzerland Alberto Contador
2006-08-02 Stage 1, Deutschland Tour   Germany Assan Bazayev
2006-08-06 Stage 1, Vuelta a Burgos   Spain Aaron Kemps
2006-09-02 Stage 8, Vuelta a España   Spain Alexander Vinokourov
2006-09-03 Stage 9, Vuelta a España   Spain Alexander Vinokourov
2006-09-05 Stage 10, Vuelta a España   Spain Sérgio Paulinho
2006-09-14 Stage 18, Vuelta a España   Spain Andrey Kashechkin
2006-09-16 Stage 20, Vuelta a España   Spain Alexander Vinokourov
2006-09-17 Overall, Vuelta a España     Spain Alexander Vinokourov

Notable ridersEdit

Name Nationality Years
Eduardo Chozas   Spain 1989–1991
Anselmo Fuerte   Spain 1990–1992
Marino Lejarreta   Spain 1990–1992
Melchior Mauri   Spain 1990–1992, 1995–1998
Juan Llaneras   Spain 1991–1995
Alex Zülle    Switzerland 1991–1997
Johan Bruyneel   Belgium 1992–1995, 1998
Laurent Jalabert   France 1992–2000
Erik Breukink   Netherlands 1993–1995
Laurent Dufaux    Switzerland 1993–1994
David Etxebarria   Spain 1994–2000, 2005–2006
Patrick Jonker   Australia 1995–1996
Íñigo Cuesta   Spain 1996–2000
Mikel Zarrabeitia   Spain 1996–2003
Carlos Sastre   Spain 1997–2001
José Ivan Gutierrez   Spain 1999–2001
Peter Luttenberger   Austria 1999–2000
Isidro Nozal   Spain 1999–2006
Abraham Olano   Spain 1999–2002
David Arroyo   Spain 2001–2003
José Azevedo   Portugal 2001–2003
Joseba Beloki   Spain 2001–2003, 2005–2006
Igor González de Galdeano   Spain 2001–2005
Jörg Jaksche   Germany 2001–2003, 2005–2006
Iván Parra   Colombia 2001–2002
Giampaolo Caruso   Italy 2002–2006
Alberto Contador   Spain 2002–2006
Allan Davis   Australia 2003–2006
Koldo Gil   Spain 2003–2005
Luis León Sánchez   Spain 2003–2006
Carlos Barredo   Spain 2004–2006
Roberto Heras   Spain 2004–2005
José Joaquin Rojas   Spain 2005–2006
Michele Scarponi   Italy 2005–2006
Andrey Kashechkin   Kazakhstan 2006
Alexander Vinokourov   Kazakhstan 2006


  1. ^ " - the world centre of cycling".
  2. ^
  3. ^ Macur, Juliet (2014). Cycle of Lies: The Fall of Lance Armstrong. HarperCollins. ISBN 9780062277220.
  4. ^ "Wednesdays EuroFile: Astana 5' cleared by Spanish courts; Landis sets post-Tour schedule". 20 October 2006. Archived from the original on 20 October 2006.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  5. ^ " - the world centre of cycling".
  6. ^ " - the world centre of cycling".

External linksEdit

  Media related to ONCE (cycling team) at Wikimedia Commons