Merckx says Contador will stay with Astana
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Friday, November 13, 2009

Merckx says Contador will stay with Astana

by Steve Jones at 2:23 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling

Cycling legend Eddy Merckx is the latest to comment on Alberto Contador's team situation, telling at Gerrit Plieger's Cycle Show he heard from a reliable source that the Spaniard has already signed with the Kazakh team for two years.

Rumors surfaced yesterday about Specialized dropping Quick Step for the Astana team, a move that would put the two-time Tour de France winner on their bikes during his much anticipated clash with Lance Armstrong in next year's Tour.

Earlier in the week Quick Step manager Patrick Lefevere confirmed that the American bike manufacturer agreed to put in some additional funding toward securing Contador's signature for the Belgian team.

Quick Step’s communications manager Alessandro Tegner told yesterday, "With regards to the Astana cycling team I do not know,” Tegner said, “but for sure the Quick Step team will race with Specialized until 2011, as the team headed by Patrick Lefevere has a legal contract.”

Merckx said that Astana was in negotiations to ride his bikes for 2010 when Rini Wagtmans was involved with the team, although with Wagtmans out of the picture, the deal never materialized. But the Belgian didn't seem too concerned about the deal falling through, saying with a smile that a top team would compete on his machines next season.

Whether or not the Cannibal's smirk means that Specialized will somehow work out a deal that would see Merkcx providing bikes for the Belgian team is unknown, but certainly anything is possible in what has already been an unusual transfer season.

Clearly Specialized is banking on a Contador win at the Tour de France to increase their brand awareness. The company has said they could sponsor up to three teams, and with ISD-Neri out of the picture, it's still possible that the California-based company could sponsor Quick Step, Saxo Bank and Astana.


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