Bruyneel, riders locked into Astana contract?
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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Bruyneel, riders locked into Astana contract?

by Conal Andrews at 9:07 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling

It seems that Alberto Contador isn’t the only person who is having difficulty extricating himself from his contract with the Astana team. Manager Johan Bruyneel, Yaroslav Popovych, Andreas Klöden, Gregory Rast and Haimar Zubeldia all remain linked to the team, and while it was previously thought that they would be able to leave, the Kazakh owners are digging their heels in.

According to L’Equipe, Popovych has now been released to go to Radioshack, but Astana is insisting that the others remain and finish out their contracts. A meeting held in Monaco yesterday ended reportedly with Bruyneel leaving angrily and, for now, no resolution has been reached.

As was previously mentioned on VeloNation, the team has secured a three year sponsorship deal with Samruk-Kazyna, a Kazakh holding company which includes oil company Kazmunaigas and airliner Air Astana. However, despite this new backing, it appears that the final two million Euro installment of funding for 2009 has still not been paid.

The deadline for Astana (and all ProTour teams) to submit its final paperwork is October 20th, one week from today. Apart from financial and ethical guarantees, the team will also have to submit its lineup for 2010, but this is clearly up in the air. If the UCI is not satisfied that the team is on track and will be run professionally, the ProTour licence will be revoked and it is likely that the team will collapse.

Bruyneel has already been working on setting up the new RadioShack team, but may have to temporarily pull out of that project if Astana succeeds in holding him to the final year of his contract. He has said that he is willing to take 2010 off if necessary, but is clearly frustrated with the situation.

"I learned a lot over the past two years with the Kazakhs and I know one thing – they always make their decision in a hurry,” he told L’Equipe.

Tour de France winner Alberto Contador has made it clear that he wants to leave. The Astana team are determined to keep him as they see him as leverage to get into the major events.


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