Tour de France winner Alberto Contador has turned down a contract extension with team Astana and plans to leave the Kazakh squad at the end of this season, although he still has one ore year on his contract.
The Spaniard received the offer from the Kazakh government to extend his stay for an additional four years, earning four million euro net per year, according to L’Equipe. It also offered the rider sole leadership within the team despite the return of Alexander Vinokourov.
Contador's brother and manager Francisco Javier said: "Indeed, this proposal has been made." But Contador, tired from the power struggles within the team, declined the proposal.
Francisco Javier said: “I replied that we refuse and that Alberto's future wasn't about money only. I said that Alberto had experienced a demanding season psychologically and that we now had to take care of his future and his tranquility.
“This season, there was Johan Bruyneel on one side, the Kazakhs on the other side and Alberto in the middle, without us really knowing what was happening.
“We have nothing against the Kazakhs, to the contrary, but now we have to seriously think about Alberto. Things are too complicated to continue in these conditions."
This is the second huge blow for Astana as Contador's teammate Lance Armstrong has already announced he will leave and form his new team, RadioShack, together with manager Johan Bruyneel and several of Astana's other star riders.
Contador knows that building up a competitive squad from scratch around him as Grand Tour leader will be difficult and he is likely to join an existing team that is able to meet his sporting needs.
And with unsubstantiated rumours doing the rounds about the possibility of Contador joining the American Garmin-Slipstream team where will the Spaniard end up?