CHIAVENNA, Italy -- Lance Armstrong and all
but one of his Astana teammates protested at unpaid salaries by
blanking out the sponsor's name on their shirts for Friday's
seventh stage of the Giro d'Italia.
Team members were not paid salaries last month and the
International Cycling Union (UCI) has said Astana's Pro-Tour
license could be withdrawn if the problem continues.
"We don't want to pretend that everything is okay. It's not
okay. The riders only received two months of salary in 2009. I
hope the shirt change will provoke an effect," team manager
Johan Bruyneel told reporters.
"We will race with these (blanked-out) shirts until
everything is fixed."
Seven-time Tour de France winner Armstrong of the United
States is considering taking over the struggling team.
The only member of the team not to join the protest was
Andrey Zeits, who is from Astana's home nation Kazakhstan.
"May 31st is the UCI deadline for Kazakh Cycling Federation
to make sure everything is in order. I hope they can do that. If
not, it will be up to the UCI to see what will happen."
The 37-year-old, racing in his first Giro having recovered
from a broken collarbone, looks out of contention after starting
Friday's stage from Innsbruck in Austria to the Italian town of
Chiavenna over four minutes behind leader Danilo Di Luca in 25th
His teammate and compatriot Levi Leipheimer is better
positioned for overall victory as he started stage seven 43
seconds behind Di Luca in fourth.