Astana granted ProTour license

AIGLE, Switzerland -- Alberto Contador's Astana team was registered Wednesday to race the 2010 International Cycling Union's ProTour calendar of events.

The UCI approved the Kazakh-backed team's entry but still wants assurances that Astana can meet its budget.

"The UCI awaits this bank guarantee and is confident it will be provided soon," the governing body said in a statement.

Contador, the 2009 Tour de France champion, was expected to leave the team if Astana was excluded.

The oil-rich Kazakhstan government has said it will back Astana's total budget for next year, a pledge worth $22 million.

Astana riders went without some paychecks last season when Contador and Lance Armstrong were teammates. Armstrong rode without a salary and has since started his own U.S.-based team, RadioShack.

"The UCI requested [Astana] to provide an additional bank guarantee so that the regrettable situation in 2009 would not be repeated," it said.

Failure to provide that financial security would "reactivate" a request to the UCI's ProTour Council for the withdrawal of Astana's racing license, the UCI said.

Astana's registration brings the total to 17 teams -- including RadioShack and the new Sky team from Britain -- that have been accepted for next season.

The ProTour's council decided Wednesday to refuse the registration of Italian team Lampre Farnese Vini featuring rider Damiano Cunego. The reason for the refusal was not disclosed. The UCI's License Commission will consider Lampre's future.

ProTour teams commit to ride in 16 stage races and one-day events next season. These top-tier teams can expect invitations to signature races like the Tour de France and Giro d'Italia.