Contador to split with Astana
He's not staying with the Kazakh outfit, but where will he go?
In an announcement that's as shocking as the one about bears' toilet habits that we've also just been handed, Alberto Contador has announced that he will be leaving Astana in a statement today. He has rejected an offer by the Kazakh outfit to extend his contract, and says he will "calmly explore all possibilities available to him"
The statement issued on the Spaniard's behalf today said: "Alberto Contador has rejected the ultimatum of the Astana team, who had asked for a definitive answer to its offer of a contract renewal for the coming seasons.
"Contador had asked for time to consider his future, given the importance of this decision. Although the positions of both parties were not so far apart, the team wanted to know urgently whether or not the winner of the Triple Crown would lead the team in 2011, and that's where the positions began to differ.
"After winning the 2010 Tour de France, Alberto Contador wants to have time to calmly explore all possibilities available to him to ride during the coming seasons, but so far none has been excluded."
Contador joined Astana in October 2007 from the Discovery Channel team with whom he secured his first Tour win in July of the same year. He was unable to defend his title in 2008 after Astana were banned from the Tour following a doping scandal that landed Alxandre Vinokourov with a two-year ban. After El Pistolero's subsequent return and victory in 2009, and his recent defence of the title, he'll no doubt have his pick of offers.
One intriguing possibility is that of Fernando Alonso bankrolling a Tour team. We reported in February that the F1 driver was considering creating his own team. "It's a project for me – a kind of dream I have because I love cycling", said Alonso at the time. "Creating a top team and being in a position to win the Tour de France will give me a nice feeling".
Should that ever transpire, Contador would certainly be first name on the target list, as the two are good friends. It wouldn't have to wait until Alonso's retirement from F1, either. "it can happen at the same time,” he said of the proposed team. “It is something Alberto and I can work on. As I said I'm very open. I know this year he is with Astana but from next year onwards, for sure, if there is an opportunity I will be very interested. I think he will be interested as well". Well, he's not with Astana now...
Contador was also linked with Garmin-Transitions in last winter, and there will no doubt be a number of other teams doinf their sums right now to see if they can afford to employ him.