Quick Step confident Contador will be with team in 2011
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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Quick Step confident Contador will be with team in 2011

by Conal Andrews at 8:58 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 

The Belgian Quick Step team has said that Tour de France champion Alberto Contador will be part of its squad in 2011, enabling it to expand its goals and chase success in cycling’s biggest race.

Speaking at the team presentation in Kortrijk, chief sponsor Frans de Cock and general manager Patrick Lefevere suggested the deal was as good as finalised, despite the fact that Contador has himself refused to say what his plans are for next season.

"Alberto Contador will be here next year,” said de Cock, according to Bndestem.nl.

Quick Step, Garmin Transitions and Caisse d’Epargne were amongst the teams which were chasing Contador after the 2009 Tour de France. The Spaniard had made it clear that he wanted to leave Astana but, with a year left on his current contract, he ultimately had to stay.

“He was facing lawsuits and all kinds of hassle,” said the team manager Patrick Lefevere. “So we will have to wait another year.”

The Specialized bike company was keen to have Contador on board, especially as it would allow it to take the fight to arch-rival Trek, which has won nine out of the past eleven Tours. It was expected to stump up extra cash if Contador went to Quick Step, helping with the financing of the deal. De Cock said that money had been put aside, and that it didn’t require extra investment on his part.

“I didn’t have to give Quick Step additional payments,” he revealed. “We still have the money that we put aside last year for Stefan Schumacher.” Specialized’s contribution would have been part of the financing of the deal.

The company has since jumped ship, ending its association with Quick Step and instead striking a deal with Contador and Astana. Quick Step has an agreement with Eddy Merckx to supply frames but, should Contador move to the Belgian squad, it can be presumed that Specialized will get back on board.

De Cock is convinced that a change of direction would be a good thing for the team. "The Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix are beautiful, but who doesn’t want to win the Tour?” he said. When asked how certain it was that Contador would indeed be wearing Quick Step colours in 2011, he dismissed any doubts.

"Very sure. We have spoken with him, the money is there and he wants to come. He just can’t do it this year.”

In his absence, Tom Boonen will once again be the biggest name on the team. “I am used to having the weight of the team on my shoulders for four years now,” he said, suggesting that he can take the pressure of being the leader if necessary. “He [Contador] doesn’t have to come for that reason [to help Boonen shoulder expectations].”

A fourth Paris-Roubaix title for Boonen and a third Tour of Flanders win for Stijn Devolder are likely to be two of the biggest goals for Quick Step in 2010, as well as Tour de France stage win.

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