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Contador for Garmin? Vaughters won’t comment

By Agence France Presse

Garmin chief Jonathan Vaughters said Friday that while Tour de France leader Alberto Contador is a “fantastic rider,” he would not confirm rumors his team was hoping to hire the Tour de France leader.

Contador, of Astana, has a virtually unassailable lead of 4min 11sec over second-placed Luxembourger Andy Schleck ahead of Saturday’s 20th and penultimate stage to the summit of Mont Ventoux.

Two days before the end of the race a huge question mark is hanging over the future of the Astana team, whose leaders are Contador and seven-time champion Lance Armstrong.

A day after Armstrong announced the creation of a new team for 2010, Team RadioShack, rumors began circulating in Spain that the American team is looking to sign Contador.

Vaughters, a former professional racer with U.S. Postal and Credit Agricole, declined to comment on those rumors.

“Alberto Contador is an incredible rider and would be a fantastic rider to have on any team,” he said. “But negotiations with riders is not something that we would discuss.”

Garmin has a strong reputation as a “clean” team, embracing a no-doping policy and requiring its riders to submit detailed medical backgrounds before negotiations could progress.

Coming a day after Contador dodged reporters’ queries about his performances – following doubts expressed by former Tour de France winner Greg Lemond – Vaughters added that Contador, just as any other rider, would have to follow strict ethical rules before even being considered.

“Every single rider who has come to the team has had to release to us their health records including blood profiles and we go through them very thoroughly through independent analysis.”

Garmin was said to be in the running to sign 2008 Tour winner Carlos Sastre before losing a bidding war with the new Cervélo team.

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