ONCE (cycling team)


The team at the 1993 Tour de France
Team information
Registered Spain
Founded 1989 (1989)
Disbanded 2006
Discipline Road
Status ProTour
Key personnel
General manager Manolo Saiz
Team name history
ONCE–Deutsche Bank
Liberty Seguros
Liberty Seguros–Würth
Würth Team
Astana–Würth Team
Astana Team

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.

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 . 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 .

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 Seguros

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 Season

On 23 May 2006, Saiz was arrested in relation to a 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. .

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 , 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 . On 16 December 2006, the UCI withdrew the ProTour license of Saiz's Active Bay company .


2003 results

Date Race Location Winner
2003-02-04 Trofeo Alcudia  Spain Allan Davis
2003-03-15 Stage 6, Paris–Nice  France Mohamad Fauzi Shafihi
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 results

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 results

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 results

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 riders

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
Mohamad Fauzi Shafihi  Malaysia 2002–2005
José Joaquin Rojas  Spain 2005–2006
Michele Scarponi  Italy 2005–2006
Andrey Kashechkin  Kazakhstan 2006
Alexander Vinokourov  Kazakhstan 2006

Team name


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