Astana has been given the green light to carry on racing by the Union Cycliste Internationale after its recent spate of money troubles.

The continuation of the squad, and the retention of its ProTour licence, were thrown into doubt when several of the Kazakh-backed squad’s sponsors failed to pay up, leaving riders without wages and the team in financial hot water.

Astana’s money troubles hit the headlines during the Giro d’Italia in May, when the team turned up with artificially faded jerseys where the names of sponsors who hadn’t paid up were obscured.

It was all potentially very embarrassing for seven-times Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, who joined the squad when he came out of retirement in January. At one point it looked as though the Texan would have to quickly find alternative sponsors and have the necessary financial guarantees in place to ensure a ride at this year’s Tour de France.

The team is also home to Tour contender Alberto Contador, who would have been unable to attend this year’s race had the team been unable to secure funds.

In its statement issued on Tuesday, the UCI said: “Following a request by the UCI ProTour Council (CUPT) on June 17th, the Licenses Commission announces that the procedure opened against Astana to withdraw its license has been provisionally suspended, with immediate effect and for an unspecified length of time.”

“This suspension will be lifted either at the request of the CUPT if it wishes to reactivate the procedure in question, or if the procedure is permanently dropped.”

After the Giro, the team was given a deadline of May 31 to present financial guarantees to the UCI in order to carry on racing with a ProTour licence. Guarantees were presented and the team are in the clear.

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  • Frank Booth

    Now all Astana have to do is decide who will be the team leader at the Tour: Armstrong or Contador. Or Leipheimer. Or maybe Kloden.