Astana still open to Contador staying, in talks with Denis Menchov and others
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Friday, July 30, 2010

Astana still open to Contador staying, in talks with Denis Menchov and others

by VeloNation Press at 12:04 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
David Arroyo said to be in negotiations, Kiserlovski confirms

Denis MenchovFollowing news the Alberto Contador will be leaving the team, Astana has turned to third place finisher in this year's Tour de France, Denis Menchov (Rabobank), as a possible replacement for the three-time Tour winner, and is also negotiating with other riders to help strengthen the team.  The Russian has won the Vuelta a España on two occasions (2005,2007) and also secured the overall at the Giro d'Italia last year.  This year marked his second podium finish at the Grande Boucle, the only Grand Tour left for him to achieve the rare Triple Crown.

Spanish newspaper El Tiempo spoke to the general secretary of the Kazakhstan Cycling Federation, Valentin Rejert, and the team confirmed that it has not completely given up hope on Contador.   "The matter is still not one hundred percent closed, but we cannot wait forever," he said.  "The deadline is next week.

"Contador is one of the best riders in the world, but there are other international leaders in the peloton, such as the Schleck brothers [Andy and Frank] and Menchov."

"We cannot wait. We're talking with Menchov and other riders for next year," he confirmed.

Rejert said the team was a "little angry" with the way Contador handled things, and said they had offered a contract renewal to the Spaniard for several seasons.  They were notified of his decision by the Tour champion's press service and were surprised by the announcement, clarifying that they had no intention pressuring the rider into making a decision.  Contador said he was being rushed in his release, but the team said they believed moving quickly was what he had asked of them.

Menchov has been with the Dutch Rabobank team since 2005, his only other team since starting his career as a stagiare with the Banesto team in 1999.

According to the Spanish press, the Kazakh formation is also in talks with this year's runner-up in the Giro d'Italia, David Arroyo.  The Spaniard currently rides for the Caisse d'Epargne team, but the French bank's sponsorship is ending this year, and no replacement has been announced.

Two-time Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso was rumored to be part of a project that would take over the Caisse d’Epargne core with Banco Santander, a sponsor for Alonso's Ferrari team, providing the financial backing.  The move was said to retain Caisse d’Epargne's manager Eusebius Unzué and also involve signing Contador.  Arroyo's negotiations with Astana could possibly mean that the rumors will not come to fruition.

Rejert insisted that the team will "continue to compete in the Tour and other races, but will emphasize the promotion of young Kazakh cyclists."

Today the team announced the signing of talented young Croatian Robert Kiserlovski from the Liquigas-Doimo team.  The 24 year old finished in tenth place overall at this year's Giro d'Italia in his first participation.


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