Tour de France champion Alberto Contador will stay with Astana for the 2010 season, the Kazakh-funded team announced on Saturday night.
The Spaniard’s future with the team had been uncertain after clinching his second victory in three years in cycling’s most prestigious event, with the 26-year-old unhappy with the recruitment of Lance Armstrong this year. However, seven-time Tour winner Armstrong announced before the end of the race, in which he finished third, that he was forming a new U.S.-based team in partnership with Radio Shack. Contador had been linked with other teams following his post-victory outburst about his problematic relationship with the veteran American, who came out of retirement this year following a four-year hiatus to raise the profile of his cancer charity. Astana, who suffered financial problems earlier this year, released a statement confirming both its own future and that of Contador.
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“In order to clarify some misunderstandings reported in the media, the Astana Cycling Team management reconfirms that 2009 Tour de France winner Alberto Contador is expected to ride for Team Astana in 2010,” it said. “Prior to the 2008 season, Contador signed a three-year contract with Team Astana, ensuring that the rider will represent the Kazakh-sponsored team for the years 2008, 2009 and 2010.” Astana spokesman Rinus Wagtmans said the team’s future backing was not in doubt. “Our sponsors are keen to continue with the team at least until the end of 2013,” he said. “It is clear that Alberto Contador will be our absolute leader of the team for next season. We are surprised to read that many other teams have reportedly shown their intention to engage our Tour winner when he remains under contract. “A transfer is not negotiable and we will honor the signed contract. We look forward to more victories from Alberto in 2010.” Astana will reportedly lose team director Johan Bruyneel to Armstrong’s new outfit, but Wagtmans said the Belgian would remain in his role for the rest of this season. “Johan has ensured that he, as well as all riders and staff of the team are looking forward to the remaining part of the season and hopeful for more victories,” Wagtmans said.