Contador decision expected soon, Astana fighting hard to keep star rider
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Monday, November 09, 2009

Contador decision expected soon, Astana fighting hard to keep star rider

by Conal Andrews at 6:40 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 

Due back in Europe after his victory in the Curacao event, double Tour de France champion Alberto Contador knows that the clock is ticking regarding his plans for 2010. Several teams are courting his signature, including Quick Step, Caisse d’Epargne, Liquigas and Garmin Slipstream, but his current team Astana is also doing its upmost to retain its top rider.

According to the Het Nieuwsblad newspaper, these efforts see the Kazakh squad offering him a staggering eight million Euros per annum if he agrees to stay with the team for four more years. The 32 million euro deal dwarfs the reported 4 million dollars per season salary that Alejandro Valverde reportedly commands and, excluding endorsements and other such deals, would see Contador become the biggest earner in the history of the sport.

As attractive as that might seem at first glance, Contador is likely to weigh things up very carefully. He’s already seen the problems about being locked into a contract with the team, and knows the political and financial complications that have arisen already during his time with Astana.

There’s also the question about the strength of the team, and if it would give him the best chance to repeat his wins at the Tour.

The Spaniard has already indicated that he is primarily guided by his sporting prospects. "I just want a team that can assist me next year in the Tour de France," he said in recent days, according to Wielerflits. "Besides Astana there are other interesting possibilities, and it helps to stay calm. One thing is certain, I will not be guided by the financial aspects. My sporting future prevails."

The teams chasing Contador are reportedly all offering 4 million euro per year. Het Nieuwsblad indicates that the most likely outcome is that Contador will remain with Astana for one more season, with three conditions needing to be satisfied.

The first is a salary of €4.5 million, while the second is the non-participation of Alexandre Vinokourov in the Tour de France. The final stipulation is that he can immediately leave the team if there is even a single positive test by one of the riders.

The final decision is likely to be made shortly, after which Contador can put his mind at rest and start preparing for 2010. It will also allow the unsuccessful teams to finalise their rosters, pinpoint new targets, and think about what might have been.

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