Team Astana – or self pronounced "Team Who" presented a statement today explaining their new Team Kit in Stage 7 of 2009 Giro d’Italia. All sponsor logos who are not ‘paid up’ with the Kazakh Cycling Federation are faded out on the modified team kit. The team riders and staff have only received two months salary in 2009. General Manager, Johan Bruyneel, made an official statement:
"We made this decision after a long consideration. Just before the Giro I asked the Kazakh Cycling Federation certain questions and asked for solutions and the solutions didn’t come. We are now in the Giro,which is an important race and we are an important factor in the race.We are in the media a lot. We don’t want to pretend that everything is okay. It’s not okay, that’s why we want to show this to everybody. The riders have only received two months of salary in 2009. I hope the shirt change will provoke an effect."
"It is a way of saying that we are professionals, doing a good job and we are representing professionally certain companies and we expect that the commitments are coming from both sides.” Bruyneel continued with, “Since the beginning of the year the team is performing very well in winning races or being an important factor in the races. We expect that the commitments are respected. I’ve received reactions from Kazakhstan since last night but it’s still words. Until we see something happen, it’s still a long way. We will race with these shirts until everything, emphasis on everything, is fixed.”
“All the sponsors who paid us until now, including KazMunayGas, are still very visible on the shirt. May 31st is the UCI deadline for KCF to make sure everything is in order. I hope they can do that. If not, it will be up to the UCI to see what will happen."
Bruyneel still see’s hope and on his blog discusses including the possibilities of new sponsors.
"Our biggest advantage is that we have the most marketable athlete on our team. You cannot wish to have a better representative of the sport. He opens doors to the industry. Especially in the US, a lot of companies desire to link their name to him. Even if Lance himself does not have to deal with the payment troubles since he rides without a salary, he suffers seeing his teammates not being paid. Although everybody is still motivated to continue together, it certainly weighs on the team."
For all hobby cyclists already decked out in Team Astana, is it still ok to be ‘seen’ in Astana gear in broad daylight? For others however there is opportunity, discount prices on current stock of Team Astana gear.
Website Team Astana