The Astana team's ProTour license application was recently rejected by the UCI, which claimed the team did not submit their application in full in the required timeline. However, as Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes discovers from speaking with the Astana team general manager, there is more to the story.
Astana General Manager Marc Biver has spoken of his disappointment with the UCIs decision not to grant the team a ProTour license, claiming that the team has been treated unfairly and asked to provide financial guarantees which he said exceeded the level requested for other applicants.
The former Tour de Suisse organiser said that a last minute requirement to provide a bank guarantee for the full €12 million budget led to the team's application being delayed and that they will exercise their right to appeal their case to the UCIs license commission next week. However he states that if this is rejected, the team has chosen not to appeal to CAS and will instead race as a Continental Professional squad in 2007.
Cyclingnews contacted Biver following the news that the UCI had turned down the application. They were one of three teams going for the license slot previously held by Phonak. Yet while Barloworld and Unibet.com have seen their bids go forward for consideration, Astana were told that theirs was unsuccessful. He gave his reaction to this on Friday afternoon, and talked about the plan of action going forward.
"The reaction is certainly one of disappointment, given the manner that that we have been treated," he said. "We have the feeling that we have not been treated with the same equality as the other teams. In addition to that, the UCI stated that we cannot have the Kazakh cycling federation as a sponsor; this, in our opinion, is wrong because the cycling federation in Kazakhstan has the same financial possibilities as any other sponsor in cycling. So therefore we cannot accept the decision."
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