Zubeldia in tug of war, awaits UCI decision on Astana contract
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Friday, October 16, 2009

Zubeldia in tug of war, awaits UCI decision on Astana contract

by Conal Andrews at 8:39 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling

Haimar Zubeldia – literally – doesn’t know whether he is coming or going. The Basque rider has been linked to Lance Armstrong’s new Radio Shack team and thought that he was certain to leave, but is now relying on a UCI judgement to give him a green light to part with the Astana team.

He, Andreas Klöden, Gregory Rast and Johan Bruyneel were all involved in talks this week with the Kazakh backers of the team. It was originally expected that all would leave, but Astana then dug its heels in and said that they would stay and fulfil the remaining year of their contracts. Following heated discussion, Bruyneel, Rast and Klöden were allowed depart, but Zubeldia was told that he would have to remain until the end of 2010.

If so, he will ride in support of Alberto Contador. The Spaniard also wants to leave the team but unless the UCI decides to withdraw its ProTour licence, he is almost certain to have to fulfil the remaining twelve months of his contract.

Zubeldia’s situation has now gone for consideration to the UCI, who will decide on Tuesday where the Basque rider will compete next year. According to Tuttobiciweb.it, he has produced a document showing that the old leaders of the team originally gave him permission to leave, but which has now been reversed by the new management.

Meanwhile the same website reports that the strong Sicilan climber Gianpaolo Caruso could sign a contract with Astana. The Brixia Tour victor currently has one year left with the Flaminia Bossini, but is deliberating about using his buy-out clause and leaving

"I received the proposal for a two-year contract,” he said. “But I have not decided anything. I have a contract until 2011 with the Flaminia…I have to respect that because I do not forget all that this team has done for me. That said, the situation in Astana could be clearer in fifteen days time. Everything is still to be decided.”

Team press agent Livio Iacovella trusts in the loyalty of the rider. "Gianpaolo has a contract for two years with us and I believe that eventually the Flaminia Bossini will win out,” he said, while admitting that the rider has indicated that he would like to leave.


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