Uncertainty persists over Contador’s future
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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Uncertainty persists over Contador’s future

by Conal Andrews at 8:16 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 

Alberto Contador’s brother and agent Fran may have stated in recent days that the rider has had talks with Team Sky, prompting a flurry of speculation that he might be heading there, but there is still considerable uncertainty about where the Spaniard will race next year.

According to Alexandre Vinokourov, he’s going nowhere. That’s to say, he will once again race with the Astana team, a squad that Contador has made clear that he is keen to leave.

“He will stay with us, without a doubt," Vinokourov told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "We will also resolve the problems with the UCI soon, presenting the new team structure. Cycling needs sound sponsors and ours is an important three-year project."

The Astana team’s future has been in question for several months, following cash flow problems earlier this year. The UCI is reviewing its ProTour licence and has made it clear that if Vinokourov takes up a management position, as was rumoured of late, that licence would immediately be revoked. Vinokourov has just returned from a two year ban for blood doping in the 2007 Tour de France.

Contador still has a year left on his contract with Astana, and has no buy-out clause that would enable him to move to another team. Caisse d’Epargne, Quick Step and Garmin Slipstream have confirmed that they are interested in signing the double Tour de France winner, but the current contract is a major barrier to a move.

UCI President Pat McQuaid has indicated that if the team loses its ProTour licence, Contador would be free to head elsewhere. There may be an element of bluff, but Vinokourov doesn’t envisage this happening. "It is clear that we will aim for Alberto Contador at the Tour," he said, downplaying any thoughts that the rider would be with another team in 2010.

Meanwhile Team Sky has played down the possibility that the Spaniard will race for the team, according to Cycling Weekly.

"There was a brief exchange of emails back in the early spring with Fran [Contador's brother and representative], but we never met and there was never any follow-up,” David Brailsford told the British magazine. “So there's nothing in the reports of any real substance."

The UCI is expected to confirm Astana’s standing within the next few weeks, if not sooner. Contador’s future would appear to be tied up in that decision.

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