Latest: Astana in; Basso; Manzano; Contracts; Armstrong

Alexandre Vinokourov and co. are set for next season, after UCI grants Astana a ProTour licence. Als

Alexandre Vinokourov and co. are set for next season, after UCI grants Astana a ProTour licence. Als
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ProTour: Astana in The UCI Licence Commission has granted Astana a four year ProTour licence. Cycling's governing body confirmed this on Tuesday night, after the team's management company Zeus Srl managed to get its paperwork in order. The team had previously been managed by Manolo Saiz's Active Bay group, but the UCI refused to give Saiz a licence. Former Tour de Suisse race director Marc Biver is now at the head of affairs in Astana. The one remaining question is whether Saiz will be able to hold riders to contracts that they already signed with him.

Italian fed wants Basso for Olympic TT The Italian cycling federation has nominated Ivan Basso as its main man for the Olympic time trial in Beijing in 2008. The federation's director, Sylvio Martinello, commented, "The project to have Ivan Basso wear the national jersey in the 2008 Olympic time trial in Beijing is taking shape. The tests that technical director Sandro Callari have carried out confirm that it's possible to achieve a good result with Basso in this specialty."

Manzano takes polygraph test Former Spanish pro Jes£s Manzano has taken a polygraph test while speaking about doping on the TV program, En Antena. Manzano has spoken publicly on numerous occasions about doping in cycling. His original claims have - indirectly at least - been borne out by evidence uncovered in Operaci¢n Puerto.

Manzano was asked to answer 27 questions on En Antena, with a polygraph test set up to verify whether he was telling the truth. In the majority of answers, the polygraph determined that he wasn't lying. Manzano said that Eufemiano Fuentes was one of the people who supplied him with drugs, and that his team director helped. He also said that he saw other athletes and footballers in Dr Fuentes' clinic in Madrid, although he couldn't say whether they were there to undergo a doping treatment.

Manzano also verified that he was given haemoglobin intended for animals, unlabeled drugs, and was made to pay _3,000 by his director for drugs during the 2003 Tour. The polygraph didn't agree with Manzano's answer about the late Jos Maria Jimnez. Manzano said was hooked on drugs after years of doping. Also according to the machine, Manzano took drugs of his own free will, he never feared for his life, and he made his accusations in order to take revenge on his former team.

Contract news

Former Discovery Channel rider Manuel Beltr n will race with Liquigas next season. "I am starting a new adventure in a team that has big objectives for 2007, and I will have the opportunity to compete in the Vuelta a Espa¤a for the eleventh time and to return to the Tour de France, which I didn't race in 2006 because Discovery preferred me to do the Giro d'Italia. "I have finished a nice period and I am now starting one that looks exciting," concluded the 35 year-old.

Simone Cadamuro has a deal with Marino Basso's new team, whose name has yet to be confirmed. The Italian sprinter rode with Team Milram this year. Isidro Nozal is set to ride for Spanish team Karpin Galicia. Nozal previously rode for Liberty Seguros, mostly as a domestique, but managed to finish second in the 2003 Vuelta a Espa¤a. "He is a rider who is at his peak and can give us a lot of satisfaction," said team director Alvaro Pino. "He is coming to reinforce the squad."

Meanwhile, Carlos Abell n, Javier Ram¡rez and Daniel Navarro are all looking for teams after losing out in the Operaci¢n Puerto affair. The three rode for Liberty Seguros, but were not able to get contracts with the Astana team.

Armstrong suffers after NY marathon Lance Armstrong has been diagnosed with a micro fracture of his shin after completing the New York marathon last month. The American will have to stop running for three months to give it a chance to heal. But he is allowed to ride, and has been training together with Ivan Basso and other members of the Discovery Channel team. The New York marathon was Armstrong's first attempt at the distance.

He completed the course in a time of 2:59:36, and said afterwards, "In 20 years of pro sports, endurance sports, from triathlons to cycling, all the Tours, even the worst days in the Tours, nothing was as hard as that, and nothing left me feeling the way I feel now in terms of just sheer fatigue and soreness."

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