Astana welcome in Austria

Team Astana may not be invited to the Tour de France, but it definitely has an invitation to race in July. The Österreich Rundfahrt has no problem with the team and hopes that the squad will send such big name riders as Alberto Contador, Levi Leipheimer and Andreas Klöden.

In an interview with, race director Uschi Riha said that the team was invited "because they took out the old management and replaced it with the Bruyneel team." She added, "The current Astana team is Discovery Channel under a new name. And they are doing everything to give back a clean image to cycling."

It was not yet clear, she noted, who might participate in the race. "The question is whether Contador gives up on this season or prepares for the Olympics and/or the Vuelta. His participation and that of the other Astana stars depends on that. The chance of a Contador start are about 50-50, I reckon. I tend to think we will see such riders as Levi Leipheimer or Andreas Klöden. But it is still too early to name specific names."

There is one Astana rider who she very much hopes will ride. Rene Haselbacher "is naturally a reason for the invitation, but not a requirement. It would be nice to have another prominent Austrian at the start."

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