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Former Astana manager in talks with sponsor to create Luxembourg-based team
Former Astana team manager Marc Biver has admitted he is in talks with a Luxembourg company about creating a team around Fränk and Andy Schleck for 2011.
The brothers have promised to wait until after the Tour de France before abandoning current team manager Bjarne Riis but the Dane has yet to find a replacement for Saxo Bank, who will end their backing of his team at the end of the current season.
It seems that Biver has been working on the idea of a Luxembourg team lead by the Schlecks for some time, perhaps as far back as November.
Speaking to the L'Equipe on Saturday, Biver said: "A Luxembourg synergy would make sense, but I haven't asked for anything specific yet and no decision has been taken."
"Before thinking about any possible agreement, I requested financial, contractual and ethical guarantees. I've given the Luxembourg group until April 15 to provide them. I need time to be able to create something serious."
Biver was manager of the Astana team that was forced to leave the Tour de France in disgrace after Alexandre Vinokourov tested positive for blood doping in 2007. Andrey Kashechkin also failed a blood test after the Tour de France, while Matthias Kessler tested positive for testosterone in April and Eddy Mazzoleni was suspended for his involvement in the Oil For Drugs investigation in Italy. John Bruyneel was eventually brought in to save the team, only to leave himself last year to create the RadioShack team with Lance Armstrong.
"The Schlecks have nothing to do with Vinokourov and Kashechkin, just like Luxembourg is not Kazakhstan..." Biver told l'Equipe, rebutting any similarities between any new Luxembourg team and the old Astana squad built around Vinokourov.