Contador admits Quick Step talks last year were advanced
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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Contador admits Quick Step talks last year were advanced

by VeloNation Press at 8:48 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Volta ao Algarve
 

Last month the Belgian Quick Step team said confidently at the team presentation 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. Today at the Tour ao Algarve, Contador confirmed he was very close to signing with the team describing their negotiations as being in a "very serious in tone".

Speaking at the team's presentation in Kortrijk last month, Quick Step's chief sponsor Frans de Cock and general manager Patrick Lefevere suggested the deal was as good as finalized.

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

Quick Step, Garmin Transitions and Caisse d’Epargne were all chasing Contador's signature following his win at 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 ended up staying.

“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 also fully behind bringing Contador on board. They saw the marketing advantage to having two potential Tour winners riding their bikes, the other being last year's second placed overall Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank). For the American company, it would give them the upper-hand on arch-rival Trek, whose bikes have been ridden by nine out of the past eleven Tour winners. Specialized was expected to come up with the extra funding necessary if Contador decided for Quick Step. 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,” explained De Cock on funding a Contador move to the team. “We still have the money that we put aside last year for Stefan Schumacher.” Specialized’s contribution would have helped to finance the deal.

The bicycle company has since ended its association with Quick Step, 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.

Contador is still holding his cards for 2011 close to his chest, though. Today he put the Belgian team in with a chance of securing his services, but wouldn't go so far as to confirm the move: "It is a strong team with a great history. My relationship with manager Patrick Lefevere is also good, with great mutual respect. After this year Quick-Step would just be another option."

Last month De Cock didn't hold any doubts about Contador coming to the team, when asked he said, "Very sure.  We have spoken with him, the money is there and he wants to come. He just can’t do it this year.”

De Cock said at the time that he's convinced 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 explained.

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