Lance Armstrong’s new Radio Shack team has been awarded a four-year ProTour license by the sport’s governing body, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI).
The formation of the new American team was first announced on the day of the second Tour de France time trial in Annecy this year. Astana boss Johan Bruyneel was Armstrong’s right hand man throughout the Texan’s seven-year tenure as Tour de France champion and was immediately confirmed as the man who would put the team together.
Since then, Bruyneel has been hurredly putting things in place in a race against time to get the application in.
Bruyneel is believed to have taken much of Astana’s infastructure with him to team Radio Shack (also referred to as Team The Shack) and many of the riders. Astana, however, issued a statement this week saying riders still under contract with them were not free to leave and would have to see out their time with the Kazakh squad.
Although they announced a new three-year sponsorship deal with Samruk-Kazyna (a state owned conglomerate of companies) the team may lose its ProTour licence if it cannot prove it has the infrastructure in place to run a ProTour-level team.
Team Radio Shack is the second new team to be awarded a ProTour licence this year after British Team Sky were awarded one last month.
There are now three American registered ProTour teams (Radio Shack, Columbia-HTC and Garmin-Slipstream) which is now more than France, who have only two after Cofidis and BBox Bouygues Telecom were not awarded one.