Alberto Contador has confirmed that he will only ride for Astana in 2010 if the Kazakh team secure a ProTour licence from the UCI.
Speaking to Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport during a trip to shoe sponsors Sidi, Contador also denied that he has tried to stop Alexandre Vinokourov riding the Tour de France with Astana in 2010.
Today is the deadline for teams to complete their ProTour licences and the UCI could announce the names of team who fail to complete the first step of the process.
"The licence is fundamental. I'd like to stay at Astana but I'll only do it if it's a ProTour team. Otherwise I'll be free," Contador told Gazzetta's Claudio Ghisalberti.
"I don't want to be a lightening rod. If the team doesn't get a licence, it's because it's not it's not economically within the rules."
Asked if he had tried to block Vinokourov, Contador said: "It's absolutely not true. It's one of the many lies put out there. I get on well with Vino and that means there's got to be respect. I've put in place other conditions but most of ethical conditions. The most important thing is that there's a severe internal anti-doping programme."
Training soon for 2010 but Giro d'Italia unlikely
Contador said he will soon begin training for 2010. His main goal of the season will gain be the Tour de France.
Sidi celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2010 and would love to see Contador try to win a second Giro d'Italia after his 2008 success. He said a Giro-Tour double victory is not beyond him but played down the chances of it happening in 2010.
"It's difficult, not impossible. It'll depend on the team that I'll have. I go to races to win, always. If I have a great team, who knows," Contador said.
"I'm going to start training in a few days. I might make my season debut in the (Tour of the) Algarve. My big goal is still the Tour."
Contador said he now trusts new Astana team manager Yvonn Sanquer and has already held several meetings with directeur sportif Giuseppe Martinelli.
The interview with Gazzetta ended with Contador commenting on former team manager Johan Bruyneel. He also confirmed that he was forced to buy his own wheels for the Tour de France prologue.
"It happened before the Monaco prologue. The best wheels weren't available for me. It seems impossible, so I bought them myself," Contador revealed.
"Some times he (Bruyneel) was in a difficult situation. But there was one thing that irritated me: he said that money had changed my life. That's a massive lie. He knows very well that I still live in Pinto, not in luxury, but in the same way as before."
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