The Astana Cycling Team announced today the list of 13 riders from where the 9 final riders will be selected to contest the 2009 Tour de France, beginning July 4th in Monaco. Ã¢â‚¬Å“The complete 2009 Tour roster will be chosen based on the strongest team from both a sportive and team-spirit criteria,Ã¢â‚¬Â said AstanaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s General Manager, Johan Bruyneel.
The following 6 riders will be on the final roster, and includes 7-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, and 3-time Grand Tour winner Alberto Contador. Joining them will be Andreas KlÃƒÂ¶den, Levi Leipheimer, Yaroslav Popovych and Haimar Zubeldia.
Of the remaining 7 riders on the pre-selection list, 3 will make the final squad. These riders are: Jani Brajkovic, Chris Horner, BenjamÃƒÂn Noval, Dmitriy Muravyev, Sergio Paulinho, Gregory Rast & Tomas Vaitkus.Ã‚Â The final squad roster will be announced soon.
In other news, Bruyneel announced that the Khazakstan government has agreed to back the team through the end of the 2009 season, resolving the team’s financial woes and allowing them to put their unbleached jerseys back in during the Dauphine Libere stage race.
“It was impossible to imagine our team being outside the world’s greatest event,” said Astana team manager Johan Bruyneel, who confirmed there would be no change in the team’s line-up of riders. “It means we can look forward to the next races, for us this is a fresh start,” he added.
Kazakh Minister of Tourism and Sport Temirjan Dosmukhambetov was quoted as saying last week a mystery American organisation had been lined up to invest in the team.