In what might might be interpreted as a classic example of 'well they would say that wouldn't they' Team Astana today issued a statement saying that they expected Alberto Contador to honour his three year contract and to ride for them in 2010.
Just as in other sports such as football, cycling has what is in effect a transfer window, which doesn't open until September 1. While there is of course a massive amount of contract negotiation and activity related to attracting new riders to teams, nothing official can happen until September and in Contador's case he is contracted to Astana for another year.
There are then two ways of interpreting the Astana statement (reproduced below): either you take it at face value and Astana are sure that Contador will be riding for them next year, or they are warning potential suitors such as Caisse D'Epargne or, heaven forbid, even 'Team Shack', that they won't be letting the Spaniard go without a fight… and probably a hefty slice of compensation.
We will know the correct interpretation in a couple of weeks time, in the meantime it is worth noting that the Astana statement contains no quotes from Contador himself.
Astana statement: Alberto Contador To Ride For 2010 Astana Cycling Team
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. 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.
Rinus Wagtmans, official spokesperson for the Kazakh authorities, emphasizes that the Kazakh sponsors are excited about the future of Team Astana. “Our sponsors are keen to continue with the Team at least till the end of 2013. 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."
Wagtmans concluded that he has spoken with General Manager Johan Bruyneel about the successful 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.”
Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.