Contador stays, Astana keeps license for 2010
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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Contador stays, Astana keeps license for 2010

by Nick Mulder at 11:55 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 

After months of uncertainty, the Astana cycling team has finally received its ProTour license for 2010. This latest development brings an end to a saga that has covered the headlines in recent months. According to Het Nieuwsblad, the Kazakh formation has fulfilled the International Cycling Union (UCI) requirements, and the news is expected to be confirmed by the UCI ProTour Council later this afternoon.

Among the requirements included a bank guarantee covering Astana’s 15 million euro annual budget. Earlier this week Kazakh Cycling Federation vice-president Nikolai Proskurin indicated that today’s deadline for the 2010 budget payment would be extremely difficult to meet. The Kazakh lashed out at the UCI and RadioShack manager Johan Bruyneel, accusing them of making the ProTour license renewal a process difficult for the Astana team. Bruyneel denied any attempt to sabatoge his former team, and commented that he was in favor of the team renewing their license.

Astana has had many difficulties with the team finances in the past year. The UCI's move to require the entire 2010 budget in a bank guarantee reflects that situation.

For two-time Tour de France champion Alberto Contador the news comes as relief. The Spaniard had recently reached a preliminary agreement with Astana that weighed on two conditions; first that Astana retains its ProTour license, and second they must put an internal doping control system in place.

Astana has already bolstered its Tour roster to help Contador to a third Tour de France victory with by signing strong Italian climbers Paolo Tiralongo and Enrico Gasparotto from Lampre-NGC. Rumors have been circulating about the possible arrival of Liquigas rider Ivan Basso for the 2011 season.

The table is now set for the much anticipated showdown in July where seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong will try to unseat defending champion Contador to win number eight.

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