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.
Alberto Contador is on the verge of winning his second Tour de France in three years after finishing fourth to fellow-Spaniard Juan Manuel Garate in the arduous 20th and penultimate 167km stage to the top of Mont Ventoux. Contador came home alongside his rivals for overall victory as the stage turned into a tactical battle between the race leaders while the two remnants of an early 16-man breakaway group, Garate and Germany’s Tony Martin, battled it out for the glory of finishing first at the top of the ‘Giant of Provence.’ Garate eventually won his duel with Team Columbia’s Martin by three seconds, giving Rabobank their first stage victory in what has been a disappointing Tour for the Dutch team. However, the real story was developing behind them as second-placed Andy Schleck launched a series of attacks in an attempt to distance third-placed Lance Armstrong — with the aim of getting his older brother Frank, who began the stage in sixth position, onto the podium.
Alberto Contador has moved closer to his second Tour de France victory in three years after finishing second to Luxembourg’s Frank Schleck in the gruelling 169.5km 17th stage of the race from Bourg-Saint-Maurice to Le Grand-Bornand. Contador, Schleck and the Saxo Bank rider’s younger brother Andy, broke clear of their rivals on the ascent of the Col de Romme, the third of four category one Alpine climbs on the day, to cross the line two minutes and 18 seconds clear of Italian Vincenzo Nibali and seven-times Tour winner Lance Armstrong. The result means Armstrong slips from second to fourth place overall as his Astana teammate Contador now leads Andy Schleck by two minutes and 26 seconds in the overall classification, with Frank Schleck a further 59 seconds back in third