Cycling: Contador quits Astana to replace rival Schleck
Wednesday 04 August 2010
Cycling's No 1 racer Alberto Contador confirmed yesterday he will switch teams next year to Bjarne Riis's Saxo Bank squad, the same outfit which – headed by Andy Schleck – made the Spaniard's recent Tour de France victory by far the toughest of the three he has won so far.
The move would seem bizarre were it not that Schleck, twice second in the Tour, and brother Frank, have already announced they are moving on this winter to form a new squad based out of their native Luxembourg, run by Riis's former PR manager, Brian Nygaard.
Riis announced yesterday that along with Contador's two-year signing, he has also secured a renewal of Saxo Bank's sponsorship through 2011 and a second title sponsor, Sungard.
Financial details of Contador's signing were not revealed, although the 27-year-old recently rejected a rumoured €5m (£4.1m) annual deal with his current Astana squad in order to sign with Riis.
Contador said that his move arose because Riis's squad offers a stable environment in which to improve, and that he is "impatient to start a new adventure with a team and sponsors who have placed their trust in me".
Cliched though the statements may sound, Contador's desire for a bit of normality is understandable. Racing for Astana has been anything but straightforward.
The addition of Lance Armstrong to the Astana line-up in 2009 made for a Tour riven with internal rivalries last year and even after Armstrong quit last December, Contador and the new management failed to gel.
In a frenetic merry-go-round of transfers, Contador may well be replaced at Astana by the rider who finished third in the last Tour, Denis Menchov of Russia.
However, the Saxo Bank management are more than satisfied with having clinched both renewed sponsorship and cycling's top rider in one fell swoop.
"There's no hard feelings towards the Schlecks, they're building a team out of their home country so it was logical they were going to go for it," Saxo Bank sports director Bradley McGee told The Independent.
"At the same time, Bjarne has responded very well to the challenge of finding a new leader."
McGee also argued that Contador will gain considerably by racing with a team that knows his top rival, Andy Schleck, the best.
"Not only that, we've got a lot of experience of trying to beat Contador and that's going to be very useful when it comes to improving his chances in the future."
Meanwhile British Tour contender Bradley Wiggins has announced that he will be making a return to track racing next year as part of his build-up for the Olympics, with his 2012 aim a second gold medal in the team pursuit.
Latest in Sport
Anthony Martial: 'It's normal Wayne Rooney doesn't know who I am..and it's up to me to justify €80m price tag'
Manchester United can learn lessons from the transfer template of rivals Manchester City
Pavement The Forum, London
Arsene Wenger uses Anthony Martial's €80m move to Manchester United to defend Arsenal's transfer inactivity this summer
Louis van Gaal labelled a 'scoundrel' over Javier Hernandez penalty reaction during Manchester United win
- 1 Huawei Mate S and Huawei Watch: new products take on iPhone 6 Plus and Apple Watch
- 2 More than 11,000 Icelanders offer to house Syrian refugees to help European crisis
- 5 Make your voice heard: Sign The Independent's petition to welcome refugees
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up
£19000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This recognized leader in providing software s...
£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...