After failing to get out of his contract with Astana but seeing Cadel Evans and Bradley Wiggins both change teams, Alberto Contador has said he would be in favour of a rider transfer system similar to football.
Contador is in Tuscany with his new Astana team mates and after seeing the lack of strength in depth for 2010, has confirmed he will only target one major stage race in 2010: the Tour de France.
Contador tried to leave Astana after Lance Armstrong left to form the Radio Shack team and took most of the best riders with him. However, he was forced to stay put after the UCI confirmed Astana’s place in the ProTour, validating Contador’s contract for 2010.
“I agree with the idea of putting a clause in a rider’s contract, so that they can change teams even if their team doesn’t agree,” Contador said during a press conference in Pisa after a five-hour training ride and a visit to the leaning tower of Pisa.
“But it would have to be in proportion with the costs of cycling, we’re not footballers. If you ask 50 million for (Christian) Ronaldo that’s nothing but it’s impossible for cycling. I’m not Ronaldo.”
Contador and Vinokourov in Astana Tour team
Contador posed with Alexandre Vinokourov and the new Astana team jersey at the press conference.
However, the two will rarely cross paths in 2010 as Vino targets the classics and the Giro, while Contador will ride the Volta ao Algarve, Paris-Nice, the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya, the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco and the Criterium du Dauphine Libere.
Astana team manager Yvon Sanquer confirmed that Vino would ride the Tour de France alongside Contador but made it clear Contador would be team leader.
The disgraced Kazakhstan rider tested positive for blood doping in the 2007 Tour but the Astana team said that Tour organizers ASO have so far not said anything about Vino being unwelcome at next year’s race.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for… Levi”
Contador again insisted his spat with Armstrong was in the past. He admitted he had learnt a lot from clashing with Armstrong at the Tour de France but snubbed the Texan by naming Levi Leipheimer as a major Tour rival.
“I want to think about sport, I’m not interested in the polemics. For me 2009 is finished. Now I want to think about training for my own goals,” he said.
“Things were difficult during the Tour de France and it was very stressful but it was also good experience for the future. I matured a lot and learnt to stay cool. It’s possible that I could be friends or an ally with Lance in the future. In sport you can never say never.”
“This year’s Tour de France was very close, so it’s impossible to say what will happen in 2010,” he said.
“There is a big group of riders who could be a threat and it includes Andy Schleck, Lance (Armstrong), Cadel Evans, Andreas Kloden and Levi Leipheimer. I raced with Leipheimer for three years and know he’s very professional. I know he can win the Tour de France without problems and so I’ve got a lot of respect for him.”
Contador refuted that the new Astana team is a shadow of the one that finished first and third at the 2009 Tour France.
“This team hasn’t many big names but we need to see the team on the road before saying anything. I hope we’ll have a strong team for the Tour de France,” he said.
“In 2010 I can’t think about riding two major stage races, so that’s why the Tour de France is my big goal. I think many of these riders in the team can improve a lot by working for one leader.”
Contador will stay in Pisa for the Astana camp until Sunday. He will then head home to Spain to collect an award.