Astana needs 15 million fast, blames Bruyneel for problems
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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Astana needs 15 million fast, blames Bruyneel for problems

by Steve Jones at 9:41 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling

The International Cycling Union (UCI) has demanded that Tour de France champion Alberto Contador's Astana team deposit their entire 15 million euro budget for the 2010 season before it will renew the team's ProTour license. Nikolai Proskurin of the Kazakh Cycling Federation has lashed out at the UCI about this latest development.

"I have the impression that they prefer not to have an Asian team in the ProTour," said a frustrated Proskoerin to

The team has encountered several financial problems in the past. The situation came to a head during the Giro d’Italia this year when Astana riders, including seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, protested their missing salary payments by fading the names of the delinquent sponsors from their jerseys.

Despite their rocky relationship with the UCI, Proskoerin thinks there may be more to it than that, telling that former Astana team boss and now RadioShack manager, Johan Bruyneel, said he would do everything he could to make sure the team would lose their ProTour license.

Bruyneel has made no secret of the fact that his relationship with the Kazakh team has soured, and one could argue that he has already made his mark in the process. He's brought the entire Astana Tour de France team from 2009 over to RadioShack, minus Tour winner Alberto Contador, and successfully secured a ProTour license for the new American team. The Belgian told that he has nothing to do with the teams latest license woes.

Bruyneel explained, "I do not know what problems have emerged now. I really hope they do get a license, because the more good teams in cycling the better."

With Proskurin unsure of whether the team can meet the UCI's Wednesday deadline, Contador's place at the team is again in doubt.

Recent developments have Garmin-Slipstream's Jonathan Vaughters acknowledging Bradley Wiggins' wish to go to Team Sky, and have also put Specialized out of the picture for additional funding at Quick Step. The bicycle manufacturer was set to help Patrick Lefevere's team bring the Spaniard on board, until they made a switch to sponsor the Kazakh team last week. Lefevere's team is now contracted to ride Merckx bikes for three years.

 All of that wrangling means that if Astana misses the deadline tomorrow, Contador will likely be headed to the Caisse d'Epargne team.


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