Astana say their money worries are over… for this season
Relax everybody! Lance definitely will ride the Tour… phew!
The Astana cycling team today released a statement saying that team manager John Brunyeel had reached agreement with the teams licence holder and principle backer, the Kazakh Cycling Federation.
In what was descrbed as a 'fruitful meeting” all the parties involved, including the Kazakh Government reached a mutually acceptable agreement that resolves the financial difficulties that have beset Astana since April and “which gives riders and staff of the Team sufficient guarantees for the operation and functioning of the Team for the remainder of the season.”
The Kazakh Cycling Federation paid off its debts to Olympus on 10 June and according to the statement funding for the rest of the season has been fully guaranteed by the Kazakh government.
Commenting on the agreement and the financial stability it brings for the rest of the season team manager Johan Bruyneel said that he was pleased that the team can once again focus on racing.
“I appreciate everyone’s patience and professionalism during this difficult time and support of the program. With only 16 days left to the Tour de France, the riders need rest in their minds. We are glad that we can continue with our strong Team. It was hardly imaginable
that our strong Team would not have been able to participate in the world’s largest cycling event. Thanks to the guarantees made by the Kazakh government, we can continue with the same group that already proved in the past to be a real Team. We look forward to the next races. For us it will be a new start, but it will look familiar. This is the best solution. The Kazakh government showed that – despite the economical crisis – they really want to invest in cycling. They succeeded to find funds. We will not disappoint them. We look forward to representing our sponsor family with pride.”
The agreement removes any lingering doubts over whether Lance Armstrong would compete in this year's Tour de France although it also leaves the door open for a new sponsor and licence holder to take over the team for next season. Armstrong has made no secret of his desire to have his own top-level pro team and his current team would seem to be the obvious choice.