UCI clears Astana to ride Tour… of Luxembourg

Now they just need to get clearance for Dauphine Libere, Tour de Suisse and the TdF

by Tony Farrelly   June 3, 2009  

Lance Armstrong - Tour Down Under 09

The immediate future of the seemingly cash-strapped Astana cycling team has been secured for at least one more race, but the situation over the team's finances seems to be far from resolved.

The team's backers the Kazakh Cycling Federation provided the necessary guarantees through it's financial backers to satisfy cycle sport's governing body the Union Cycliste International (UCI) who cleared Astana to ride the Tour of Luxembourg which started today (Wednesday). Astana rider Gregory Rast duly celebrated still having a job by winning the prologue – his teammates Assan Bazayev and Andreas Kloden came 4th and 6th repectively.

However, the UCI clearance is only for one race and, their spokesman Enrico Carpani, told the Associated Press news agency, the organisation will continue to monitor the situation closely.

While the UCI would not want to suspend the team currently eighth in the world rankings and with two legendary Tour winners, Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador in its ranks, the history of opaque, complex or simply not there team financing of cycling teams often leading to unpaid riders and support staff forced it to impose the system of financial guarantees that a team has to provide in order to get a ProTour licence. While Astana's most famous rider, Armstrong, does not draw a salary from the team the word is that those that do have not been receiving regular payments.

During the Giro all but one of Astana's riders (Andrey Zeits – the lone Kazakh on the squad) took to wearing a team strip with the names of non-paying sponsors faded out.

As we've noted before, the Kazakh economy which relies on the export of minerals and other raw materials has been badly hit by the world economic downturn leading to a significant drop in income for the state holding company which supports the Kazakh Cycling Federation. Even if, as seems likely, they manage to limp along until the Tour de France it seems highly unlikely that their support will continue into next season or that they would be in a position to provide the necessary guarantees. Given the nature of the world wide recession Kazakh finances are unlikely to suddenly improve any time soon.

The nightmare scenario for the team, it's fans and the world media is that Astana manages to limp along for most of June, they plan to race the Dauphine Libere and the Tour de Suisse but then falls over just before the Tour leaving no time to put alternative financing in place.

4 user comments

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Bruno might think this 'so two souzand und six' but I can reveal the new Astana team car, funded by exporting superior potassium.

borat.jpg

posted by wild man [287 posts]
4th June 2009 - 9:43

1 Like

I want one of those!

Spinning on a wheel

Hammy's picture

posted by Hammy [97 posts]
4th June 2009 - 10:31

1 Like

Maybe you could get one in for a Friday Schwag Grab?

Spinning on a wheel

Hammy's picture

posted by Hammy [97 posts]
4th June 2009 - 10:31

1 Like

i don't reckon they'll be able to afford a horse...

cardboard car.jpg
Barry Fry-up's picture

posted by Barry Fry-up [186 posts]
4th June 2009 - 11:40

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