Contador planned Astana departure before Tour, says Martinelli
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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Contador planned Astana departure before Tour, says Martinelli

by Samuel Morrison at 4:35 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
Italian DS explains that Contador worked on win and new team at Tour

Spain's Alberto Contador will ride for a new team next year, a plan he had in place even before winning the Tour de France, according to Astana Sports Director Giuseppe Martinelli.

"At one point in the Tour de France, maybe even before it started, it seemed as if Contador had already forgotten the Astana project and was starting to make other plans," Martinelli told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"He needed only the victory to leave."

Contador announced yesterday that he will leave Astana at the end of this year.

He followed Johan Bruyneel from Discovery Channel to Astana 2008. Belgium's Bruyneel ran the team through Contador's second Tour de France win, but left to form RadioShack with Lance Armstrong at the end of last season.

Last year, with the team on the brink of destruction, Contador tried to get out of his three-year contract and find a new team. He stayed, though, and helped bring in new staff, including Martinelli.

"I arrived during a difficult period," said Martinelli. "We worked well at certain times, but there was never complete confidence. I was the sports director, not his director. In the end, though, I did my job. We won Algarve, Paris-Nice, Castilla y León and the Tour, with a second place at the Dauphiné."

Martelli also was behind five other Grand Tour wins: the Giro d'Italia with Marco Pantani (1998), Stefano Garzelli (2000), Gilberto Simoni (2003) and Damiano Cunego (2004), and the 1998 Tour de France with Pantani.

He said that he will continue with Astana and work with Alexander Vinokourov and sports director, Alexandr Shefer. Vinokourov helped Contador win the Tour de France this year and won the Revel stage for himself. He will likey take on a management role next season.

Contador signed a two-year personal sponsorship agreement with Specialized last season. The American bike company is likely to take on a co-sponsorship of Bjarne Riis' Saxo Bank team and bring along Contador as the new leader.


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