What's up with this Team Astana business?

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So what's up with Lance Armstrong being sponsored by some funky Kazak firm? I may be late on this news, but what's up with this Team Astana business? Astana is the new capital of Kazakstan, formerly called Akmola. The previous capital was Alma-Ata, or Almaty. Look closely and you can even see Kazak Cyrillic on their uniforms:
what's up with Team Astana ?

"Armstrong, who is riding for Astana without salary this year, has previously hinted he might launch his own team next season. When Astana was hit by financial trouble this year and faced the prospect of being thrown out of the ProTour, Armstrong said he could take over the team with the backing of U.S. sponsors."

Of course we love a uniform based on the fabulous colors and style of the national flag of Kazakstan, but what were they doing sponsoring a Tour de France team? Why would Armstrong pick a Kazak sponsor? Is this a post-Borat attempt at boosting positive Kazakstani PR? It's all very weird. If any of you have an explaination for all this please let me know. I sense a story behind all this and I am curious about it.

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2 Comments

mike/ said:

Jimbo - weren't you in Kazakstan for a long time? i seem to remember some posts you've done about it.

Tim said:

No texting on the dancefloor!

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