Since the announcement that Lance and his acolytes would be Team Radio Shack in 2010, there has been copious speculation as to the fate of Alberto Contador, the winner of this year’s Tour de France. While rumours have abounded about a new Spanish Fernando Alonso-led squad, choc full of Spanish stars, and sponsored by Santander, this won’t come to fruition before 2011. So what’s going to happen in 2010?
According to today’s L’Equipe (as good a source as any), he wants to buy himself out of next year’s contract with Astana. Despite the Kazakhs, promising he’ll be their leader and throwing Euros 4 million (net) at him for each of the next four years, Alberto’s brother Fran, who’s his agent, says “it’s not about the money.”
Put yourself in Alberto’s shoes and you can understand why, despite his friendship with Vino. He was prevented from riding the Tour in 2008, because he was riding for Astana. The return of Vino and Kash to the Astana fold could give rise to similar issues with ASO for 2010 and Astana without those two would be a considerably weaker side. He’s endured a number of months of uncertainty due to the war between Bruyneel and the Kazakhs, culminating in the blatant preference of Bruyneel to put Lance, and not Bert, in yellow and the subsequent psychological stresses of being isolated from the team one’s supposed to be leading. Frankly, this must have been both confusing and wearing for Alberto.
Given that ASO will be courting Lance for next year’s Tour, we can assume that the course will be Lance-favourable, featuring not too many steep mountain top finishes, two ITTs and one TTT. Many of this year’s favourites found their GC chances laid to waste by the TTT. So Bert has to join a squad that can perform at TTTs. This doesn’t leave him with too many choices. You only have to look at the performance of the teams in this year’s to see how limited.
STAGE TEAM STANDING
Standing Team Time Gaps
1. ASTANA 46′ 29″
2. GARMIN – SLIPSTREAM 46′ 47″ + 00′ 18″
3. TEAM SAXO BANK 47′ 09″ + 00′ 40″
4.LIQUIGAS 47′ 27″ + 00′ 58″ 5.
5.TEAM COLUMBIA – HTC 47′ 28″ + 00′ 59″
6. TEAM KATUSHA 47′ 52″ + 01′ 23″
7. CAISSE D’EPARGNE 47′ 58″ + 01′ 29″
8. CERVELO TEST TEAM 48′ 06″ + 01′ 37″
9. AG2R-LA MONDIALE 48′ 17″ + 01′ 48″
10. EUSKALTEL – EUSKADI 48′ 38″ + 02′ 09″