Astana's hour cometh?

Kazakh crew faces another cash crisis

While talk has been of Astana's prospects for the Tour de France, if the team doesn't honour its financial commitments by 5pm today (European Central Time) it may not be competing at all.

According to Dutch daily De Telegraaf, the International Cycling Union (UCI) requires payment of six million euro by the deadline to ensure Astana's ProTour licence for the remainder of the season. Failing this payment, the team runs the risk of having this 'permit to race' suspended and its Tour plans thrown into jeopardy.

Alberto Contador and Levi Leipheimer are currently two favourites for the Tour de France podium, although the cloud of pending financial doom has lingered over the team for several months.

No comment has been made by team manager Johan Bruyneel or star riders Lance Armstrong and Levi Leipheimer.

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