Alonso still wants Tour de France team with Contador
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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Alonso still wants Tour de France team with Contador

by Conal Andrews at 5:00 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 

Double Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso has reiterated that he wants to set up a top-level cycling team led by Alberto Contador, and suggests it could be in place by next season if all goes well.

"It's a project for me – a kind of dream I have because I love cycling,” he told the Guardian. “Creating a top team and being in a position to win the Tour de France will give me a nice feeling. But I know it is not easy to create a top team from zero. You need good riders, good staff, a lot of preparation and, most important, a lot of sponsors. So I don't think we are in the right moment to start a project like this, because of the world economy."

That said, he believes that things could turn around quickly if Contador came on board. “This is something that Alberto and I can work on. As I said I'm very open. I know this year he is with Astana but from next year onwards, for sure, if there is an opportunity I will be very interested. I think he will be interested as well."

Alonso is about to start his first season with the hallowed Ferrari team, and has a lot to concentrate on. He is just 28 years of age and should have several more seasons in Formula One. He confirms that the cycling project could happen at the same time as his current career, and wouldn’t have to wait until he retires. That would necessitate appointing people to run the team in his absence.

Contador has indicated before that he would be very interested in the project, but also held talks last year with the Quick Step, Garmin Transitions and Caisse d’Epargne teams. Quick Step sponsor Frans de Cock recently predicted that the double Tour de France winner would be part of the squad in 2011, and Contador himself admitted that talks last season had been ‘very advanced.’ However he ultimately stayed with the Astana squad, realising that breaking the final year of his contract could lead to serious legal tussles.

Recent months have undoubtedly been complicated for the Spaniard and for Astana, as the departure of Johan Bruyneel to the new RadioShack formation has seen many riders and personnel also jump ship. Ironically, though, the work put in to set up a new Astana team is something which could prove to be of benefit should Contador decide to move forward on his project with Alonso, particularly if the current structure could be moved en masse over to new backers.

Of course, there also remains the possibility that he will extend his deal with Astana. He has said that he will make a decision on his future later this season, and is likely to talk further to Alonso on this possible option. In an interview with VeloNation last month, RadioShack's Chechu Rubiera was also linked to the project.

The F1 star is the latest in a long line of top drivers to have an interest in cycling, and to use the bike to supplement their fitness routines. Alain Prost and Michael Schumacher are two examples; Prost has ridden several editions of l’Etape du Tour, while Schumacher trained with Tony Rominger and impressed the Swiss with his fitness levels.

Alonso has also spent time alongside pro riders, although he said that he resisted offers to train alongside Contador in the winter.

"He invited me to train with him a couple of times but I was always trying to have something else to do that day,” he said. “I trained with the Olympic champion Samuel Sánchez, who is from my city [Ovideo], and with some of ­Alberto's team‑mates from Astana."

Contador has a strong interest in sports cars, and recently test-drove a Ferrari California on the Jerama circuit in Madrid.

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