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Tour de France

Astana narrows its Tour roster

Astana named six of its nine riders who will battle for overall and stage wins in next month's Tour de France, where Alberto Contador of Spain will start as a yellow jersey favorite.Contador, the 2007 champion, will be joined by seven-time winner Lance Armstrong, Andreas Klöden, Levi Leipheimer, Yaroslav Popovych and Haimar Zubeldia. The remaining three riders will be picked from a group that includes Jani Brajkovic, Chris Horner, Benjamin Noval, Dmitriy Muravyev, Sergio Paulinho, Gregory Rast and Tomas Vaitkus.

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By Agence France Presse

Contador is aiming for his second Tour win.

Contador is aiming for his second Tour win.

Photo: Agence France Presse – file photo

Astana named six of its nine riders who will battle for overall and stage wins in next month’s Tour de France, where Alberto Contador of Spain will start as a yellow jersey favorite.

Contador, the 2007 champion, will be joined by seven-time winner Lance Armstrong, Andreas Klöden, Levi Leipheimer, Yaroslav Popovych and Haimar Zubeldia.

The remaining three riders will be picked from a group that includes Jani Brajkovic, Chris Horner, Benjamin Noval, Dmitriy Muravyev, Sergio Paulinho, Gregory Rast and Tomas Vaitkus.

“The complete 2009 Tour roster will be chosen based on the strongest team from both a sportive and team-spirit criteria,” said Astana general manager, Johan Bruyneel.

Astana will be making its return to the race following an absence in 2008 after organizers did not invite the team, due to doping scandal violations by two riders who have since left the squad.

After his 2007 victory, when he rode as a member of the Discovery team, Contador concentrated his 2008 efforts on cycling’s two other grand tours, the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a España. He won both.

The Tour de France begins with a time trial in Monaco on July 4 and ends in Paris on July 26.