Astana-Qazaqstan has negative prize money this Tour de France

This Tour de France has not, by any conventional measure, been a dazzling one for Astana-Qazaqstan. Two weeks into the Tour de France, their best-placed rider on GC is Alexey Lutsenko (11th overall, 10 and a half minutes back). Lutsenko also managed their best stage result – eighth into Col du Granon. Outside of that, there have been two other top 20s on stages, a lot of mid-pack finishes, and very little to write home about.

That brutal reality is reflected in the prize money distributed through the race – where riders get rewarded by the Tour’s organiser for their places on stages, at sprint points and at the top of climbs. As of the rest day a few days ago, the team ledger was €600. (For purposes of comparison, Jumbo-Visma was sitting on more than €80,000 at that point and has continued to climb since).

Simultaneously to the Tour organisers (the ASO) handing out prize money, the UCI’s commissaires are following the race around, issuing fines for infractions big and small. Things like taking a public wee, for example, or an unauthorized feed in the last five kilometers of a stage. These fines, issued in Swiss Francs versus the ASO’s Euros, are also tallied up at the end of the race.

Crudely, one figure subtracted from the other will give us the answer of Astana-Qazaqstan’s financial success this Tour de France.

The ASO only issues a prize money update on rest days, so I’ve been keeping a mindful eye on Astana-Qazaqstan over the last few days to see how things are going.

The start of the Tour – a time of optimism. (Photo by THOMAS SAMSON/AFP via Getty Images)

Pluses and minuses

The team kept things tidy on the fine front for the opening stretch of the race, but the road to Megeve signaled a troubling development. Simone Velasco threw a bottle where he shouldn’t have (-500 CHF), and Andrey Zeits and Joe Dombrowski had unauthorized urination (-300 CHF, x2).

Things got worse on Alpe d’Huez, when team leader Alexey Lutsenko was docked 200 CHF for a feed in the last five kilometers. The directeur sportif in the team car who was facilitating that feed was deemed the naughtier of the two, copping -1000 CHF.

Is there redemption in the prize money balance in the days since? Some. Alexey Lutsenko and Simone Velasco’s have added €1,640 to the kitty. Give or take some minor sprint or KOM points I might have missed, that brings Astana to about €2,240 in prize money.

Now let’s get out the red pen. Tallying up Astana-Qazaqstan’s fines – as of halfway through stage 14 – we arrive at 2,300 CHF, payable to the UCI. At current exchange rates, that equates to €2,334.

The final figure

After 14 days of backbreaking work from eight riders (now seven, since Gianni Moscon’s departure on stage 8) and dozens of team staffers, Astana-Qazaqstan’s Tour de France has earned them -€94.12.

Upon arrival in Paris, based on current rider positions on the GC, Astana-Qazaqstan will receive €9,000 more in prize money. Future forbidden wees are as yet unclear.

An attempt to verify these calculations with the team was unsuccessful – the team has a policy of not discussing prize money, “never”.

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