Saxo Bank confirms Contador contract has ended, but hopes to re-sign him in August
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Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Saxo Bank confirms Contador contract has ended, but hopes to re-sign him in August

by Shane Stokes at 6:03 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
Team states rider wants to renew with Danish squad

Riis ContadorWhile Bjarne Riis today pledged his support to Alberto Contador during a press conference held in the rider’s hometown of Pinto, the Saxo Bank team has ended its contract with the Spaniard due to his CAS-imposed suspension.

The double Tour de France winner, who lost a third title this week due to his positive test for Clenbuterol in 2010, has been suspended by CAS until August 5th. Under UCI rules he is no longer a Saxo Bank rider, and the team has consequently no obligation to pay him.

“August is still a long time (away),” said Riis at the press conference, when speaking about the contract situation. However he made it clear that Contador would be eligible to return once his ban has ended. “If he wishes to continue with the team, our intention is the same. I would have no problem working with Alberto again. I have not seen a bike rider like him in many, many years…probably not since (Eddy) Merckx.”

A spokesman for the Saxo Bank team has confirmed to VeloNation that the team wants to bring him back on board once he is eligible to race. He added that Contador also wanted to renew the working relationship then, making it almost certain that the rider and squad will be reunited in six months time.

Earlier on during the conference, Riis gave his opinion about the rider. “Today I would like to say that we as a team, supported by all our sponsors, will continue to fully support Alberto based on the ruling from CAS,” he said. “That ruling states that it is very unlikely that this is anything to do with conscious cheating.

“It said that the most likely reason is the accidental intake of a supplement…this is very important for us, so our trust in Alberto is still 100 percent intact.”

Meanwhile the Saxo Bank sponsors today pledged to stand by Riis and the squad in the face of the CAS ruling. “This does not change anything for us” the CEO Lars Seier Christensen told sporten.dk. “While it’s a terrible loss, it’s also damaging to both Alberto Contador, the team, sponsors, and the entire sport in general. He is the world's best cyclist, who in this way have been forced to fight in the dark and is now being pushed aside.

“I have spoken to Bjarne and he was naturally not pleased. But I do not think that he is surprised by our support. He has known this all along.”

He added that the other riders would be given an opportunity to chase their own success in races such as the Tour de France, and that he believed competitors such as Chris Anker Sørensen could take victories for the team.

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