The future of Astana Pro Team has been placed in doubt after general manager Alexandre Vinokourov revealed that the team has not received funding from the Kazakhstani government since the start of the year, and its riders and staff have not been paid.
In an interview with the Kazakhstani publication Vesti.kz, published on Friday, Vinokourov described the situation as "critical" and said that the Astana team is currently operating by using pre-existing funds.
"We're going to races with our own savings, the lads haven't received their salaries," Vinokourov said, according to Vesti.kz. "The situation is critical. There are 30 riders under contract, we have obligations to them. There are more than 50 people if you add in all the staff, including trainers, masseurs, doctors and mechanics."
Astana have made a strong start to the 2018 campaign, most notably at the Tour of Oman, where Alexey Lutsenko won the general classification, while Miguel Angel Lopez and Magnus Cort also claimed stage victories.
Vinokourov expressed hope that the situation could be resolved, but suggested that further delays in funding could threaten the very existence of the team.
"Flights, accommodation on races, logistics – all these costs are urgent, and any postponement of funding would simply stop the work of the team, and ahead of the most important races of the season," Vinokourov said. "All this would inevitably lead to the closure of the project after 13 years."
Cyclingnews has contacted the Astana team, but they have not yet issued a statement regarding Vinokourov's comments. The team is currently racing across three countries at the Abu Dhabi Tour, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, Faun Environnement - Classic de l'Ardèche Rhône Crussol and the Royal Bernard Drome Classic this weekend.