By Greg Johnson
The UCI Licence Commission announced overnight that it has awarded Kazakhstan's Astana Team a ProTour licence for the next four years. The announcement comes after cycling's international governing organisation revealed on Saturday it would grant the outfit additional time to prepare its application "due to difficulties in the production of the required documents," an official statement read.
Astana's original application had been rejected by the UCILC after the team was asked to provide a bank guarantee for the outfits full €12 million budget for 2007, just days before the November 20 cut-off date for applications. The request followed the UCI's dissatisfaction with the outfit having the Kazakhstan's cycling federation as its major backer.
"We only found out about that requirement very close to the deadline," Astana general manager Marc Biver told Cyclingnews following the initial rejection. "Also, no other sponsor was requested to provide a bank guarantee for their full budget; we have been the only one. "
While Biver secured the guarantee by November 28, the UCI stood firm on its cut-off date for applications. "Quite simply, they haven't followed the regulations," UCI President Pat McQuaid said. "They [Astana] didn't get their information in on time. It is as simple as that."
Unsatisfied with the team's treatment, Biver appealed to the UCI Licence Commission which granted the reprieve, extending the deadline for the outfit's application to December 20.
The UCI released a brief, official statement overnight, confirming the outfit's position in the peloton:
The required documents having been produced within the given deadline, the UCI Licence Commission has awarded the Astana Team (Zeus Sàrl) a UCI ProTour Licence for a four years period, from January the 1st 2007 to December the 31st 2010.
The announcement allows Astana to press ahead with its formal plans and preparations for 2007.