By Andrew Hood
Will he stay or will he go?
If you ask the Kazakhs, Tour de France winner Alberto Contador is staying in an Astana jersey in 2010.
The ongoing saga of the future of Contador took another turn this week when officials said the two-time Tour champion isn’t going anywhere and that he will be held to finishing out the third year of his three-year contract.
The latest twist came when Nikolai Proskurin, president of the Kazakh cycling federation, stated that “Contador will race in an Astana jersey next year. There are no problems.”
Contador has repeatedly stated he’d like to break his contract and leave the troubled Astana team to join a team where he will be the center of the team’s attention.
There are plenty of suitors for Contador’s obvious talents, with links to Caisse d’Epargne and Garmin-Slipstream, but time is running out for many of the players.
Astana, meanwhile, continues to insist everything is fine within the team despite running into hurdles over efforts to maintain its ProTour license. The team has until Nov. 22 to square everything with UCI officials.
In comments with the Spanish wire service, EFE, Contador said it’s not going to be “easy” to break his contract with Astana and conceded he might have to ride with the team next season.
“A lot of reports are coming out that I can rescind my contract with Astana if they’re not ProTour status, but it’s not easy. It’s a complicated situation,” Contador said. “I am hoping to be able to define something within the next week or so.”
Contador has been watching in interest as Astana has signed up quality riders to help fill the vacuum left by the departure of Lance Armstrong and nearly a dozen riders who made up the bulk of the firepower at Astana.
Newly penned riders include Davide de la Fuente, Paolo Tiralongo, Andre Grivko as well as rumored moves to the team by Gilberto Simoni, Enrico Gasparotto, Marco Marzano and Xavier Tondo.
Contador also refused to comment on recently published remarks from his former sport director Johan Bruyneel, who said Contador “has a lot to learn.”