Astana hopeful of keeping Alberto Contador

But no ProTour licence yet for Kazakh team

Kazakh cycling team Astana, still awaiting their ProTour licence, insisted Friday they are hopeful of keeping Tour de France champion Alberto Contador among their riders.

Astana and four other teams - Caisse d'Epargne, Euskaltel, Saxo Bank and Sky - were on Thursday found lacking by the International Cycling Union (UCI) in their administration and financing.

While the teams still have the possibility of putting their books in order to obtain a ProTour licence, their riders, including Contador, are free to break their contracts.

The Kazakh federation, who are in charge of Astana's management, insisted however that the Spaniard was committed to the team until 2010.

"We're continuing to work closely with Mr Alberto Contador who should meet with Mr (Yvon) Sanquer, our future general manager, and Mr (Giuseppe) Martinelli, the future sporting director, in the coming days," a spokesman for the Kazakh federation said.

"With him (Contador) we're preparing the 2010 season so that he can have a competitive team around him to take up new challenges as he is committed to doing in the Astana colours."

The Kazakh federation gave their commitment to providing "the missing elements as quickly as possible" in order to obtain a ProTour licence.

"The backing of our sponsor for the four coming years gives us hope of a very speedy solution," the spokesman added.

© AFP 2009

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