Team Sky’s Dave Brailsford has quashed newspaper speculation that Tour de France champion Alberto Contador was a major target for the new British-run squad.

The Times reported on Saturday that Team Sky had been in contact with the Spaniard, who won his second Tour title in July. The report quoted Contador’s brother and representative, Fran, and it was interpreted by some as indicating Contador was still on Team Sky’s hitlist.

But team principal Brailsford told Cycling Weekly: “There was a brief exchange of emails back in the early spring with Fran [Contador’s brother and representative], but we never met and there was never any follow-up, so there’s nothing in the reports of any real substance.”

Team Sky has announced two-thirds of its roster for 2010. However, the biggest piece of the jigsaw still to be put in place is a rider capable of challenging in the grand tours. Speculation continues to link Britain’s Bradley Wiggins, fourth in this year’s Tour, as the preferred team leader, but he is contracted to Garmin-Slipstream for another year.

However, Garmin’s interest in Contador goes back to June, when the team’s manager Jonathan Vaughters first spoke with the Astana rider about the possibility of a switch to the American team.

Astana’s status is very uncertain, with rumours circulating that the team’s demise is imminent. The UCI told CW there was nothing to report about the Kazakh squad at the moment. Contador still has a contract with the team, but many of the riders, staff and team infrastructure has switched to Lance Armstrong’s Team The Shack, which, like Team Sky, will make its debut at the Tour Down Under in January.

The transfer merry-go-round still has a few more spins in it before the situation is fully resolved.

Related links
Team Sky: As it happens
Alberto Contador: Rider profile