I'm sure that the Astana team will find a stop-gap sponsor between now and July, should it need one, to ensure a start at Le Tour. It has to be a worthwhile investment, surely? With a team of stars, including Armstrong, how could you fail to get ROI out of it?
The rumours look like this:
On May third, the newspaper's website quoted Kazakhstan's cycling federation vice president Nikolai Proskurin as saying that even if the team takes part in the Giro as planned, it is likely to be the final Grand Tour in the history of the Astana project. The only way to save the current incarnation of the squad appears to be for one or more Kazakh backers to move in and commit to supporting it. Alternatively Johan Bruyneel, who owns the ProTour licence, will have to find funds to enable the team to continue.
Armstrong recently said this:
Lance Armstrong believes there is a "high" probability he will start a professional team of his own for the 2010 season. The American expects the announcement to come this July, after he races the Tour de France.
You can join any required dots.