Quick Step confirms Contador talks, Vino warned over Astana role
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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Quick Step confirms Contador talks, Vino warned over Astana role

by Conal Andrews at 8:55 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 

Under UCI rules, Alberto Contador can’t officially have any discussions about changing teams until such time as he is released from his Astana contract, but Quick Step has confirmed that it has been in talks with the management team of the double Tour winner.

“Our last contact date was Friday and the talks are very concrete,” team manager Patrick Lefevere told Het Niuewsblad. "We are in constant contact. I've negotiated twice with the manager of Contador. And I've already had two conversations with Contador himself. At present little is possible. We shall see what the UCI does with the Astana Pro Tour license….if the license is not renewed, that will provide opportunities. "

He added that he was keeping five additional places free on the team for Contador to bring whomever he likes. Lefevere said that he didn’t see any issues with vying for both Grand Tour titles and Classics. “We did that earlier with Mapei, so why not?”

The Spaniard is also known to have had talks with other teams, including Garmin Slipstream and Caisse d’Epargne.

Contador held a press conference at the Vuelta a España on Friday, speaking to the media at the finish line of stage 19 in La Granja. He said then that his first choice was to leave Astana for a new destination. "I need a team with guarantees - that is the most important thing. I missed the Tour de France in 2008 and I don't want that to repeat that again. I also need to know who will be running the team.”

According to various media sources, the UCI has serious concerns that Alexandre Vinokourov may be planning on retiring from the sport and taking on a management role with the team. It was previously run by Johan Bruyneel, but he will leave Astana at the end of the season and is expected to work again with Lance Armstrong at Radio Shack.

Vinokourov recently returned from a lengthy ban for blood doping. While there is no specific UCI rule forbidding those with doping convictions from running teams, it has made it clear to Vinokourov and others that it would have serious problems with such a role.

ProTour teams have strict requirements to retain their place in the series, including clear ethical standards. The UCI has communicated that such an appointment would lead to the immediate removal of the licence. However, if Vinokourov decides not to take this route, that might ensure that Astana continues, Contador stays, and teams such as Quick Step, Caisse d’Epargne and Garmin Slipstream would have to postpone any efforts to bring him on board until at least 2011.

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