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Big sigh of relief for Bruyneel
The Astana Cycling Team announced that it has resolved its finance issues, stating in a press release Thursday that the squad now has a guaranteed budget for the remainder of the season.
Team manager Johan Bruyneel was able to reach an agreement with the ProTour license holder, the Kazakh Cycling Federation (KCF), which paid off its debt to the team's managing company Olympus SARL.
"[The agreement] gives riders and staff of the Team sufficient guarantees for the operation and functioning of the Team for the remainder of the season," the press release said.
With just over two weeks to go before the Tour de France, the team's existence is now no longer in question. The UCI had threatened to yank the squad's ProTour license if it could not replenish the bank guarantee which is required under its rules.
Bruyneel expressed his relief. “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 rest in their minds.
"For us it will be a new start, but it will look familiar. This is the best solution. The Kazakh government showed that – despite the economical crisis – they really want to invest in cycling. They succeeded to find funds. We will not disappoint them. We look forward to representing our sponsor family with pride.”
The KCF said last week that the government had found nine million dollars to fund the team, and that all debts had been paid. However the UCI had not yet received the bank guarantee by its deadline of 5PM on Tuesday.
The UCI has not yet confirmed that it has received this bank guarantee or that the team's ProTour license is still valid.