Deutschland Tour ready for Astana

Astana won't be able to do too many races this year, following their exclusion from ASO and RCS races. One unlikely place where they will be welcomed is the Deutschland Tour, which did not care for them last year. Tour organiser Kai Rapp explained in an interview to that the times have changed. He is ready to invite all 18 ProTour teams. "Last year they followed the rules by stopping their competition. At the time we had the team in high regards for doing such a step, which juristically was not required." Rapp added that in 2008 there is a new situation that has to be evaluated. "We discussed Astana with the UCI in October. Later, the team management was substituted. And the whole team is doing a self-financed anti-doping programme....Astana is under strong surveillance and there are no more 'Men in Black' riding."

Rapp could understand why the Giro and the Tour do not want Astana to ride. "Anybody who is aware of the fight between the UCI and the organisers of the Grand Tours does understand. It is obvious that the non-invite cannot be explained with the experiences from last year alone. Otherwise, there would be very different consequences, especially by the Giro." Rapp is not afraid of political pressure, even though the French company that bought the Deutschland Tour last year has some stakes in ASO as well.

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