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Astana has Kazakh support

The Switzerland-registered Astana ProTour squad has counted claims that it's on the brink of collapse following the damaging news that star rider Alexandre Vinokourov tested positive for a homologous blood transfusion at the Tour de France. A brief release from the organisation, which has honoured Tour de France organiser's request to leave the Tour, stated the team will continue with the full support of the Kazakhstan Cycling Federation.

"Contrary to what some medias announced, the Astana Cycling Team goes on with its activities and will be at the start of the next two races : Sachsen Tour (July 25 - 29) and Brixia Tour (July 26-29)," declared the release from Astana's spokesperson Corinne Druey. "The team's management, still in Pau (Fra), just received the total support of the President of the Cycling Federation of Kazakhstan, Mr Danial Akhmetov."

The Kazak government has been a strong supporter of Vinokourov and the Astana team. The squad was formed last year following the collapse of Manolo Saiz's Liberty Seguros team in the fallout from Operación Puerto.

In an interview with Cyclingnews earlier this month, Kazakh Ambassador Erlan Idrissov said the significance of a Kazakh winner on the world stage cannot be overestimated. For the youngsters of Kazakhstan - a country where a rumoured 250,000 of the 15 million population are drug addicts - the example of Vino and Andrey Kashechkin is designed to be inspirational. "Many boys and girls will jump into cycling, they will stay away from drugs and bars and they will have something to devote their lives to," Idrissov said in the interview. "The message will be that they can also achieve success like this. And the government can support this message by building modern facilities for them."

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