Kirsipuu leaves Astana, aims to set up regional pro team ({{commentsTotal}})

Former pro cyclists Jaan Kirsipuu, who has been Astana's sporting director since retiring from racing, is leaving the club and plans to press on with a Estonian-Finnish professional team project.

Previously one of the world's top sprinter cyclists, Kirsipuu joined Astana as a competitive director in 2012. However, the large number of directors on Astana's payroll meant that there was often little to do. "There was not enough work and Astana was all to well organized. It was difficult to put your soul and ideology into it," he told Postimees.

Nevertheless, he said that he would have liked to stay for another year and support the newly signed Rein Taaramäe and Astana's super-domestique, Tanel Kangert.

However, he said that he will not accept the offer to direct Astana's B-team, citing the recent doping revelations and uncertainty about its World Tour license.

Kirsipuu is now more interested in working for a team for which his input can make a difference. He will join the Estonian U-23 team in its upcoming training camp in Portugal, and press on with the Estonian-Finnish pro team project he and Rene Mandri are developing.

"There were some setbacks this year but perhaps will have more luck next year," he said, referring to problems with funding, most of which should come from Finland.

"There is money in Estonia as well and once we get the team going, we may find local sponsors. At the moment, however, we are seen as two fools talking some nonsense about a professional road racing team. No one wants to help us, they prefer to watch from the sidelines for the time being. The sum totals are large of course; we cannot build anything with 100,000 euros; we need eight times as much," Kirsipuu explained.