Contador to join Belgium’s Classics team?
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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Contador to join Belgium’s Classics team?

by Nick Mulder at 1:56 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 

The 2010 Tour de France suits the world’s best climbers, and at the top of that list is Spain’s Alberto Contador. The Spaniard will look to tear the race apart as the roads pitch upwards in his bid for a third Tour de France crown. With Astana´s recent financial problems and the team now the focus of a doping probe by French authorities, the question still remains on whether Contador will be forced to honor his contract with the Kazakh team through 2010.

Quick Step director sportif Rik Verbrugghe thinks Contador would be better off riding for the Belgian team even though they are best known for their strength in the Classics. "The program in the mountains is extremely difficult and there are barely any kilometers against the clock. The cobbles in the beginning of the Tour could shake the overall. If I were Alberto Contador, I would choose for Quick Step. We have experience on that terrain and the stages with shorter climbs are suited for Chavanel," he told Het Nieuwsblad.

If Verbrugghe’s statement wasn’t enough to convey Quick Steps desire to snatch up El Pistelero, team manager Patrick Lefevre added that Contador could choose four teammates to bring with him to the team.

"There are three teams that are interested in Alberto, Garmin, Caisse d’Epargne and us," he explained to the Belgian newspaper. "I talked to his brother Tuesday night. Alberto is being blocked by Astana, but that team is no longer the team that he originally signed for. No less than 24 people have left Astana. I don’t know exactly how or when Alberto will be free from his contract, but it is evident that our team would adapt if he chose us. He can even bring four teammates with him," he added.

Astana has been the focus of much attention in recent weeks. According to L’Equipe, Manager Johan Bruyneel, Yaroslav Popovych, Andreas Klöden, Gregory Rast, and Haimar Zubeldia are all still under contract with Astana through 2010, which could prevent their expected move across to Lance Armstrong’s new RadioShack team.

If Astana’s ProTour license is revoked it is likely that the riders will be free to leave, but their chances to retain the license improved earlier this week when they secured a new sponsor for 2010. As previously reported on VeloNation, Samruk-Kazyna, a Kazakh holding company which includes oil company Kazmunaigas and airliner Air Astana, have stepped in to secure the team’s financial future.

The biggest obstacle in Astana’s future could be the recent drug probe launched by French authorities. The investigation centers on the discovery of suspicious medical equipment found during the Tour de France in July. The evidence includes "syringes and drips” that, according to French daily Le Monde, have put the Astana team at the center of the investigation.

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