According to Alberto Contador's manager/brother, Francisco, the two-time Tour de France champion is increasingly likely to stay with Astana for 2010.
Speaking to Spanish website Biciclismo, Francisco Contador revealed that the work of recently appointed team boss Yvon Sanquer at Astana had resulted in a "good impression" of the work being done. "Yvon Sanquer wants to do things in the right way and move the project forwards," said Contador.
However, he quickly added that there were still hurdles that needed to be crossed before a deal could finally be agreed between his brother and the Kazakh-backed team. "We're very close to Astana but it's not certain," he explained. "If Astana receives a ProTour licence from the UCI the chances of Alberto staying with them are greater. If they don't, Alberto and the rest of the riders will leave."
He added that any deal with Astana would definitely only cover the 2010 season, no matter what the UCI's decision. "This is a new project [with Sanquer] and we don't know how it's going to work, so signing for any more than one year would be like going in with our eyes closed," Contador explained.
As for reports of an €8 million a year offer for four years from Astana, Contador said they were nothing more than a joke. "It's incredible. This weekend I was in Florence relaxing with my wife so it was impossible for me to have met with anyone as was said, and the figures and years mentioned were also lies," he declared. "They've got nothing to do with reality… It's like someone reporting now that Alberto is going to sign for Contentpolis-AMPO."
Contador refused to be drawn on which team is the favourite for Contador's signature if Astana don't retain his services. "Quick Step have shown great interest, but so have the rest of the teams," he stated, adding that he will discuss all the options with his brother when the Tour champion returns to Madrid from the Caribbean on Thursday.