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Astana Are In!

Was this story completely mis-reported at first, or has the reality evolved rapidly over the last month? In either case, the Free Men are in for the 2007 Pro Tour.

Some of the details as to what changed remain to be sorted out. While Eurosport reports that the key change was Active Bay's exclusion last week, Cycling News has a totally different take:

Astana's original application had been rejected by the UCILC after the team was asked to provide a bank guarantee for the outfits full €12 million budget for 2007, just days before the November 20 cut-off date for applications. The request followed the UCI's dissatisfaction with the outfit having the Kazakhstan's cycling federation as its major backer.

"We only found out about that requirement very close to the deadline," Astana general manager Marc Biver told Cyclingnews following the initial rejection. "Also, no other sponsor was requested to provide a bank guarantee for their full budget; we have been the only one. "

So they got an extension and met the filing rules, and now they're in? OK, fine, whatever. Nothing up yet on the official Astana site.

Big blow to the Grand Tours... the Pro Tour teams are suddenly closing ranks. But tomorrow is another day.