Cycling: Contador parts company with Astana

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The Independent Online

Tour de France winner Alberto Contador is to leave Team Astana at the end of the 2010 season after rejecting an offer to extend his contract.

The 27-year-old Spaniard, who won his third Tour in Paris on Sunday, now plans to "calmly explore all possibilities available to him".



A statement issued on Contador's behalf this afternoon read: "Alberto Contador has rejected the ultimatum of the Astana team, who had asked for a definitive answer to its offer of a contract renewal for the coming seasons.



"Contador had asked for time to consider his future, given the importance of this decision. Although the positions of both parties were not so far apart, the team wanted to know urgently whether or not the winner of the Triple Crown would lead the team in 2011, and that's where the positions began to differ."

The statement continued: "After winning the 2010 Tour de France, Alberto Contador wants to have time to calmly explore all possibilities available to him to ride during the coming seasons, but so far none has been excluded."

Contador claimed his first Tour triumph with the Discovery Channel team in 2007 but was unable to defend the title after Astana were banned from the race following a year of doping controversies. It was the second time he had been at a team banned from Le Tour.



His Liberty Seguros team were left out of the 2006 Tour after a number of their riders were embroiled in the Operation Puerto scandal. Contador was later cleared by the UCI, but his involvement with the Spanish team meant he was not allowed to ride at the Tour.



He joined Astana in October 2007, initially on a two-year deal, after the Discovery Channel team pulled out of cycling and enjoyed a highly-successful three-year stint with the Kazakhstan-based team, winning the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a Espana in 2008 and a further two Tours in 2009 and 2010.

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