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Page last updated at 12:32 GMT, Thursday, 7 May 2009 13:32 UK

Armstrong ponders Astana takeover

Lance Armstrong
Armstrong is making his return after a broken collarbone

Lance Armstrong says sponsors are keen to back him if he takes charge of the cash-stricken Astana cycling team.

The seven-time Tour de France winner joined the Kazakh-backed outfit last September after ending his retirement.

But Astana have hit financial problems, with staff currently unpaid, prompting Armstrong to consider a takeover.

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

Armstrong, riding for Astana on a unpaid basis, expressed his sympathy for employees waiting for their wages only days before the start of the Giro d'Italia.

"My situation is different as I don't take a salary but there are a lot of people who have families," he said.

"When they sign a contract, they expect to be paid."

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.


"There's not a lot of clarity about what is going to happen," Armstrong said ahead of the Giro's start on 9 May.

"Maybe the situation gets resolved and the guys start getting their dough. Otherwise I think the license ought to be transferred to [team director] Johan Bruyneel and we try to start a team in the middle of the season."

International Cycling Union president Pat McQuaid said he was aware of the situation and in contact with the relevant parties and hinted that drastic action could be used in a worst-case scenario.

"I don't want to talk about possibilities," he said. "Obviously if the team folds in the middle of the year certain things need to happen."

Armstrong, a cancer survivor, also said he would like to have another go at riding in the Tour de France to promote his Livestrong Foundation, should he be able to secure backing.

"I don't have any concrete answers but I suspect we can find some funding that would get us from June to the end of the year," he said.

"It could be a combination of people that have a shared interest in Livestrong and want to see Livestrong promoted around the world and believe in what we're doing.

"If someone commits to fund a team for half a year, that's $7 or $8m," he said.

"For a full season it's $14 to $20m. That's a serious decision and can't be made in 20 to 30 days."

see also
Armstrong expects Giro stage win
05 May 09 |  Cycling
Racing return pleases Armstrong
30 Apr 09 |  Cycling
Ballan ruled out of Giro d'Italia
30 Apr 09 |  Cycling
Armstrong vows to make Giro start
17 Apr 09 |  Cycling
Armstrong undergoes collarbone op
25 Mar 09 |  Cycling
Injured Armstrong in Giro doubt
23 Mar 09 |  Cycling
Armstrong returns in classic race
16 Mar 09 |  Cycling
Armstrong confirms European races
02 Mar 09 |  Cycling
Nervy Armstrong begins comeback
18 Jan 09 |  Cycling
Armstrong opts to ride 2009 Tour
01 Dec 08 |  Cycling
Armstrong to make shock comeback
10 Sep 08 |  Cycling

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FROM OTHER SPORT SITES Armstrong angry over Astana crisis on eve of Giro - 4 hrs ago
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