Alejandro Valverde has nearly won this year's Vuelta a España and stated that he will now think more confidently about victory in the Tour de France. But Alberto Contador, two-time winner of the Tour de France, may join Valverde's Caisse d'Epargne team for 2010.
Valverde's team is one of those interested in signing Alberto Contador, and in theory that could cause a clash with two potential leaders.
Not so, insists Caisse d'Epargne directeur sportif Alfonso Galilea. "They are friends. They have spoken to each other, and if they are in the same team, there are a lot of races all around the season for both," he told Cyclingnews. "Alejandro would be a very good partner for Alberto for some races, and for some races Alberto for Alejandro. But the first question is what is going to happen with the [Astana] contract?"
As Contador said on Friday, he is still in limbo as regards his existing deal for 2010. He has one year remaining with Astana but wants to leave the team, and Caisse d'Epargne is one of his strong choices. He described the prospect of racing for the team as 'very interesting' in his press conference at the Vuelta.
But he, like the teams who are courting his signature, must wait and see what unfolds with his current Astana deal. "At this moment, we have no news [about signing him]," said Galilea. "We have spoken with him, as have many other teams. The main problem is that Alberto has a contract with Astana.
The International Cycling Union (UCI) told Cyclingnews yesterday, it could take several weeks before the situation is clarified with Astana. Valverde also faces a wait as later this year he will face two hearings with the Court for Arbitration in Sport (CAS).
One is an appeal against Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) relating to his two-year ban on racing in Italy. The second is more crucial and could result in worldwide ban. The UCI and World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) started a process to force the Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) to open disciplinary proceedings against the rider over links with Operación Puerto.
In theory, depending on the outcome of the Contador and Valverde situations, Caisse d'Epargne could end up with two Tour de France contenders leaders next year, or none at all.