Alberto Contador says he fears a Leopard Trek – RadioShack teams will merge
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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Contador says he fears a Leopard Trek – RadioShack merger

by Shane Stokes at 9:16 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Believes it would become ‘impossible’ for him to win a Grand Tour

Alberto ContadorTriple Tour de France winner Alberto Contador has admitted that he is worried about the rumoured merger of the RadioShack and Leopard Trek teams, saying that it would impact upon his chances of winning future Tours.

“I shudder at the thought,” he told Spanish media. “Leopard and RadioShack are currently the two strongest teams and if they combine forces, it will be impossible for me to win a Grand Tour.”

The rumoured deal was reported in recent days by l’Equipe and La Gazzetta dello Sport, saying that both teams would come together and race as one. There is however a clear obstacle to the merger; it is estimated that between the two teams, 40 riders have contracts extending into 2012.

The current UCI maximum size of a team is 28 riders, with this extending to 30 if it has between two and five neo-professionals on board.

However despite that, the rumours are persisting that some kind of amalgamation is planned. If that is the case, Contador believes that it could create an unbeatable combination in the Tour. “Johan Bruyneel is the best team leader I know of, and if his experienced crew takes the Schleck brothers under their wings, it becomes almost impossible for me.” Contador was managed by Bruyneel between 2007 and 2009 while on the Discovery Channel and Astana teams.

Andy Schleck has finished second overall in the past three Tours, losing out to Contador in 2009 and 2010, and to Cadel Evans this year. He has been accused by some of making tactical errors or being too hesitant in his attacks, although he disputes this.

Contador won the Giro d’Italia this year but appeared tired in the Tour de France, finishing only fifth. The Saxo Bank SunGard rider faces a hearing before the Court of Arbitration for Sport in November, relating to his positive test for Clenbuterol in last year’s Tour.

If CAS rules against him, he would lose the 2010 Tour title and face a suspension of up to two years. He has insisted he is innocent and that he expects to be cleared.


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