ONCE (cycling team)
Under the name of the sponsor ONCE (1999-2000 firmierte 1989-2003 ONCE German bank , 2001-03 ONCE-Eroski ), a Spanish pro team in road cycling . After a change of sponsor, the team was called Liberty Seguros from 2004 to 2005 and Liberty Seguros-Würth in 2006 , before changing names several times in the course of the Fuentes doping scandal and being dissolved.
Team manager, sporting director and, through his operating company Active Bay, owner of the team was the Spaniard Manolo Saiz. The long-standing main sponsor was the Spanish lottery for the blind, Organización Nacional de Ciegos de España ( ONCE ). The successor to Liberty Seguros is a Spanish insurance company,
The team's most successful drivers included the Swiss Alex Zülle , who began his professional career at ONCE in 1991, and the French Laurent Jalabert , who was signed up by Toshiba in 1992 . Zülle finished second in the 1995 Tour de France for ONCE and won the Vuelta a España in 1996 . In addition, Zülle celebrated various victories in smaller tours , such as B. Paris – Nice 1993, the Tour of Catalonia 1992 and 1994 and the Basque Country Tour 1997. Jalabert's greatest successes at ONCE were the victory at Milan – Sanremo in 1995, at Paris – Nice 1995–1997 and the Fleche Wallone 1997. Both Drivers jointly dominated the UCI world rankings from 1995 to 1998 - Jalabert led the list for almost four years. After the 1997 season, Zülle switched to competitor Festina , while Jalabert moved from ONCE to Team CSC at the end of 2000 .
From the end of the 1990s, the team included u. a. the tour specialists Igor González de Galdeano , Carlos Sastre and the German Jörg Jaksche . Team captain Joseba Beloki made it onto the Tour de France podium three times from 2000 to 2002, but after a serious, spectacular fall during the 2003 Tour, he did not achieve the same level of performance. In 1995 and 2002 ONCE won the team championship of the tour and in 2000 and 2002 the team time trial .
Change of sponsors, doping and the end
At the beginning of the 2003 season, ONCE was replaced as the main sponsor by the insurance company Liberty Seguros and renamed Liberty Seguros Team.
The team's greatest success in 2004 was Roberto Heras' victory at the Vuelta a España 2004 . The victory at the Vuelta a España 2005 was revoked from Heras after a positive doping test for EPO . In June 2011 a Spanish court ruled that the suspension and the sanctions imposed on Heras such as the withdrawal of the Vuelta victory due to irregularities in the doping process were invalid.
On May 23, 2006, team leader Saiz was arrested in the course of the investigation into the doping scandal Fuentes . The main sponsor Liberty Seguros then withdrew on May 25, 2006, so that the team was temporarily named after the co-sponsor Würth. The new main sponsor was a consortium of Kazakh companies on June 2, 2006, after which the team was named after the Kazakh capital Astana . After five drivers from the 2006 Tour de France line-up were withdrawn because of their involvement in the doping investigation, the team was not allowed to start because they fell short of the minimum number of six drivers.
On 16 December 2006, the Licensing Committee of the revoked International Cycling Union UCI , the UCI ProTeam license the operating company Active Bay while the Kazakh sponsors consortium under the same name Astana the squad for such a license applied successfully, new management and large parts. The victory of Alexandre Vinokourov at the Vuelta a España 2006 was the last great success of the team founded in 1989.