by Anton Johan
Pro Team Astana
flies the flag of Kazakhstan in the most important cycling tour of the year. Alberto Contador, the odds-on betting favourite to win the 2011 Tour de France no longer rides for Astana but they still have enough talent on their roster to be real contenders.
The team leader is Alexander Vinokourov and he should be ably supported by the young rider, Roman Kreuziger, who has finished 9th in the previous two Tours.
The complete Astana roster for this year's Tour de France is as follows:
Remy Di Gregorio (FRA), Dmitriy Fofonov (KAZ), Andriy Grivko (UKR), Maxim Iglinskiy (KAZ), Roman Kreuziger (CZE), Paolo Tiralongo (ITA), Tomas Vaitkus (LTU), Alexandre Vinokourov (KAZ), Andrey Zeits (KAZ)
It's unlikely that any of these cyclists can threaten for the yellow jersey - "Vino" the team leader is already 37 and probably past his best. But the team has a good blend of top class sprinters and able climbers and could well challenge for the general classification title.
The latest team classification betting sees the Team Astana odds
to win this honour. They have a lot to do to compete with Team Radio Shack, the dominant favourites to win, but they do have a solid chance of a podium finish.