Astana funded for rest of season

Updated: June 18, 2009, 10:00 AM ET
Reuters

PARIS -- Lance Armstrong's Astana team will be able to ride in next month's Tour de France after the Kazakh-funded outfit met their financial obligations for the rest of the season.

"Thanks to Rinus Wagtmans, who acted as representative of the Kazakh government, all parties have reached a mutual and written agreement which gives riders and staff of the team sufficient guarantees for the operation and functioning of the team for the remainder of the season," Astana said in a statement on Thursday.

"The mutual agreement resolves the financial difficulties the team has endured since April 2009."

Astana had been given until close of business on Tuesday to resolve their financial woes. Otherwise they would have faced being stripped of their licence to race by the International Cycling Union.

During last month's Giro d'Italia, seven-time Tour de France winner Armstrong and all but one of his teammates blanked out the sponsors' names on their shirts in protest at the money trouble.

Team manager Johan Bruyneel said: "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 peace of mind. We are glad that we can continue with our strong team."

The Astana roster on the Tour starting on July 4 in Monaco is expected to be led by Armstrong and Spaniard Alberto Contador, the 2007 winner and arguably the top stage-race rider in the world.

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