Tour tension abounded between Astana's star pairing
Tour de France champion Alberto Contador has further fueled speculation about his future after Astana, explaining that only contractual obligations are keeping him at the Kazakh squad rather than a genuine desire to remain in the team.
Contador was blunt in an interview with the 'El Círculo a primera hora' ['Early Circle'] program on Telemadrid. "If I was not currently contracted I wouldn't continue with Astana," he said. "Quite a few teams are interested in me, but I have a year on my contract and I'll see what comes up," he added.
The reigning Vuelta a España champion, who isn't defending his title on home soil in 2009, spoke of the rumours surrounding the formation of a team created by Formula 1 driver Fernando Alonso.
"I've been talking with Fernando Alonso about this possibility, but something must be done well in advance. God knows, it could be the year after next," he explained.
Speaking of his Tour de France victory and the 'battle' between himself and Astana teammate Lance Armstrong, Contador was adamant that he would approach the situation differently if he was confronted with the scenario again. "I could stand another one [Tour] like that, but I would go with things more clearly defined and think only in sporting terms, making sure the whole team was thinking of that goal," he said.
He added that during the Tour he had to ensure that he remained focused on the task at hand and "not enter into the talk and not lose my calm and composure." He also explained that some people who acted appropriately and were on his side in the cold war between himself and Armstrong while others were found wanting.
He paid tribute to Armstrong however, saying the American was "a very great champion who won seven consecutive Tours. He knew he did not go there to 'stroll', and I saw him in December when we were focused - but it was clear to me what I wanted and I knew my goal was the same regardless of what came out in the press," he said.
While the message during that first training camp together was one of solidarity, what has happened post-Tour has been anything but solid. Armstrong has formed the RadioShack outfit while the pair has exchanged views on each other in a very public display. Contador did admit that while there was never one defined leader of the team - adhering to the team line - he was given the support he needed during July.
"He [Armstrong] knew that if I respected the people who were around me things would be in place, and it was," he said before explaining that his communication with Armstrong was "minimal".
"He didn't talk with me, which was a big problem because when you see tension between the two main riders of the team, the rest are also in an uncomfortable situation. I tried to not have tension, but it was difficult," said Contador.
On a slightly unrelated note, Contador explained, "In this Tour I had 17 doping controls - we were very controlled. Every day I had to report a time that I could be located because they can arrive at any time to take a sample. I am not opposed to anything like this because it is to gain credibility in cycling," he added.
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