Kazakhs back renewed Astana effort

The Kazakh government has stepped in with a $22 million cash infusion to keep the Astana team afloat for at least another year.

Alberto Contador won’t lose sleep next season thinking that his paycheck is going to bounce.

After a season of turmoil that nearly saw the Astana team fold under financial uncertainty, it appears that Kazakh officials have stepped up and are guaranteeing $22 million in financial back to keep the Astana team afloat for at least a year.

The injection of cold, hard cash from Kazakhstan’s state sovereign fund meets the UCI’s demands of financial guarantees and comes just as two-time Tour winner Contador revealed this week he’s reached a tentative agreement to ride the 2010 season in an Astana jersey.

“Samruk-Kazyna (state holding) has provided UCI with a guarantee of financial backing worth 15 million Euro($22 million) for this season,” Kazakh Cycling Federation deputy president Nikolai Proskurin said.

The Associated Press reported that Proskurin also denied media reports that Astana has offered to double Contador’s contract to $12 million per year.

According to Proskurin, rumors about the Spanish rider’s future with Astana have been orchestrated by former team manager Johan Bruyneel as an attempt to sow discord. Bruyneel parted ways with Astana in July amid an acrimonious dispute over the planned return of Kazakh rider Alexander Vinokourov, the Associated Press reported.