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Page last updated at 17:12 GMT, Saturday, 3 May 2008 18:12 UK

Astana given place in Giro field

Alberto Contador
Contador and Astana have not been invited to the Tour de France

Tour de France winner champion Alberto Contador's Astana team have been invited to the the Giro d'Italia by organisers at just one week's notice.

Astana, thrown out of last year's Tour de France for doping violations, were originally excluded from the event.

But they confirmed they are making hurried preparations for next Saturday.

Spokesman Philippe Maertens said: "It is a good moment for us. When we were told in February that we were not invited, it was a disaster."

Kazakhstan-backed Astana were asked to leave the 2007 Tour de France after lead rider Alexandre Vinokourov tested positive for a blood transfusion.

They brought in Johan Bruyneel, the Belgian who guided Lance Armstrong to seven Tour victories, as director to overhaul its image and operations and also signed Contador.

Earlier this week, organisers of the Vuelta a Espaņa (Tour of Spain) also extended an invitation to the team.

Britain's Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish, both riding for Team High Road, and Geraint Thomas, (Barloworld) are all riding the Giro d'Italia.

see also
Astana in Vuelta, High Road out
29 Apr 08 |  Cycling
Tour chiefs omit holder Contador
20 Mar 08 |  Cycling
Contador not sure of Tour place
01 Feb 08 |  Cycling
Contador wins tainted 2007 Tour
29 Jul 07 |  Cycling
B-sample confirms Vino positive
28 Jul 07 |  Cycling

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