Sponsors declare continued support of Team Astana
Sponsors declare their continued support of Johan Bruyneel's new squad featuring Alberto Contador, Levi Leipheimer and Andreas Kl?den.
After the recent unjust and irrational non-invitations handed to the Astana Cycling Team by race organizers RCS Sport and Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), the Kazakhstan Cycling Federation, city of Astana and the Team?s Kazakh sponsors declared their continued support of Johan Bruyneel?s new squad. Meeting with Kazakh officials earlier today, Bruyneel said, ?I am very appreciative of the unconditional support the Team has received from our Kazakh sponsors and Prime Minister Danial Akhmetov. Though they are frustrated and disappointed by the news and cycling?s political battles, they continue to have faith in this Team and new program.?
Bruyneel and the Team have also received backing from their entire sponsor group and fans throughout the world. Numerous forums, websites and petitions have been created by fans in an effort to communicate their unhappiness with RCS and ASO. ?It?s a very unfortunate situation for not only our riders, but also the sport of cycling. Through these times we have felt an overwhelming amount of support and I am grateful to our sponsors and fans who continue to show their loyalty to the new Astana Team. It appears that only a few powerful race organizers do not recognize that we are an entirely different team from 2007 and should be allowed to compete in the world?s biggest races.?
The Team, currently competing at the 2008 Tour of California in defense of Levi Leipheimer?s 2007 title, has physically felt the support Bruyneel describes. Crowds, many wearing buttons and holding signs, form daily around the bus and along the entire race route cheering for Team Astana. Though it is very motivating and somewhat comforting, Bruyneel remains confused. ?The decisions handed down by the organizers are inconsistent. RCS originally told us that our Giro d?Italia squad was not to their competitive expectations. Now RCS has not invited us to Milano-San Remo and Tirreno-Adriatico, where Team Leader Andreas Kl?den was prepared to defend his 2007 title. It?s very hard to understand these decisions when there are no rational and consistent reasons behind them. We continually attempt to reach RCS for further explanation and wait for proper justification as we still hope to participate in future RCS events.? It's in Italy - so it would usually take quite a while.
The Team is in the process of confirming additional races for the 2008 season and remains optimistic. ?I love this sport and strongly believe that change is needed. Currently the sport has lost its credibility. The best riders are not allowed race in the top events, however I remain hopeful that one day, fans, sponsors and riders will participate in a well-organized and fair sport. Until then, Team Astana will continue to compete in races and fight for justice,? declared Bruyneel.