Alberto Contador has finally confirmed that he will be staying with Astana for 2010. After it was announced on Wednesday that Astana could take part in the ProTour in 2010, the 26-year-old double Tour de France champion has confirmed the news on Thursday.
“It was about time my future was decided,” Contador said. “I’d already reached a preliminary agreement with the team and I was waiting for the ProTour licence to be settled.”
“Finally, as was expected, I’ll continue in Astana.”
After weeks of speculation, the UCI’s agreeing Astana could take part in the ProTour on Wednesday was the final piece of a very complicated jigsaw.
Contador confirmed that the team’s line-up would be strong, although not as powerful as in 2009.
“I have full confidence in the squad and the technical staff are doing a very good job,” he added.
“I don’t know what other races I’ll be doing, but once again, I’m going to be fighting for victory in the Tour de France.”
As for the Astana line-up for the Tour, it’s certainly more solid than it was a couple of weeks ago.
Whilst Haimar Zubeldia, a solid three-week stage rider, will finally be racing for RadioShack in 2010, Spain’s Oscar Pereiro, who won the event overall in 2006, has just been confirmed as a late addition to Astana, and more riders are expected to join.
So is that it? Is the Astana-Contador will-he-won’t-he saga finally over? Probably.
The last twist in the tale could yet be the UCI’s insistence that the Kazakh sponsors hand over a bank guarantee for the riders wages for the entire 2010 season. Until that happens, a small but possibly important questionmark over the team’s future still remains stubbornly in place.