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Page last updated at 19:08 GMT, Monday, 11 May 2009 20:08 UK

Armstrong team given UCI deadline

Lance Armstrong
Armstrong has been approached by potential sponsors

Lance Armstrong's cash-strapped Astana team have until the end of May to sort their finances or risk suspension by the International Cycling Union (UCI).

The Kazakh-backed team have been hit by financial problems due to the credit crunch, with staff currently unpaid.

"If it's not taken care of by then, the team will be suspended," said Astana team manager Johan Bruyneel.

Any UCI suspension could wreck Armstrong's hopes of winning an eighth Tour de France title in July.

"At least we're going to be able to finish the Giro d'Italia," added Bruyneel, referring to the prestigious Italian event that ends on 31 May, which Armstrong is racing for the first time.


Last week Armstrong, who rides for Astana on an unpaid basis, floated the possibility of taking over the cycling team, revealing he had been approached by potential sponsors.

"Considering the economy and global sports sponsorships - it's a tough climate for all that stuff - we've had high interest," said the American.

Astana receives most of its financial support from a Kazakh state holding company but the country has struggled in the economic crisis, and the national airline has already pulled out of sponsorship.

Armstrong has estimated that the team requires as much as £5.3m to race for the remainder of the year.

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