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Posted by wetalkhablamos in Uncategorized.

The Associated Press reports today that Kazakh sponsors of the Astana Cycling Team have fallen behind in payments of rider salaries due to financial hard times.


According to the news wire, payments to the riders have been withheld for about a month, and one major sponsor, Air Astana, has discontinued its support.

The AP:

 “Astana receives most of its financial support from Kazakh state holding company Samruk-Kazyna, but the Central Asian nation’s economy has been badly hit by the ongoing global financial crisis. While Samruk-Kazyna has pledged to continue its support for Astana, which is named after the Kazakh capital city, state carrier Air Astana has stopped sponsoring the team.”

Don’t worry for now, the riders will soon be able to collect their checks. Nicolai Proskurin, a high-ranking officer in the Kazahk Cycling Federation said, “We started receiving the first payments yesterday … and now that money will be forwarded to the team.”

But in the long term, is our sport in danger?

Cycling is a relatively cost-efficient sport. While logistical requirements are onerous, rider salaries are modest compared to those of other athletes, infrastructure (stadiums, for instance) is minimal, and most events are free to the public.

In contrast, it costs more than $400.00 US for a family of four to see the New York Yankees play a regular-season game at their new stadium. No wonder. One player alone, star third-baseman Alex Rodriguez, will be paid $33,000,000.00 US for 2009.  Compare: a Tour de France winner makes something like one-tenth as much, spread over two or three seasons.

A couple of dozen guys riding bikes for a year could be funded by one night’s hot dog sales in the Bronx.

Cycling is not at the top of the food chain, in terms of public preference or corporate backing. What can we expect for the sport as the global economy struggles?