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These youngsters don't have too much trouble getting Contador's signature, but which team will get the big one?
Teaming with Alonso not ruled out, Quick Step throw their hat in the ring
Alberto Contador has described a possible move to Caisse d'Epargne as the most attractive of several transfer offers made to the two-time Tour de France winner. He told Spanish press agency EFE on Thursday that while he continues to consider his options, Eusebio Unzué's squad would be capable of supporting his ambitions.
"I feel [that Caisse d'Epargne] is a very good option," Contador said. "But we need to discuss my contractual conditions before we reach any agreement. At the moment there are some difficulties to overcome [before it could happen], but as an option it is the most attractive."
Despite claiming his second Tour de France victory in July, Contador has had a turbulent season at current team, Astana. He is contracted to the Kazakh squad for another year, but has already expressed his desire to break free and leave the squad at the end of the current season. Last month he turned down a lucrative contract-extension offer from Astana and has publicly stated the importance of moving to a team where he would be supported as sole leader.
"Eusebio Unzué has plenty of experience," said Contador on Thursday. "[Caisse d'Epargne] is a team that knows the mentality of working for a leader and from a sporting point of view is interesting."
Unzué has been a pivotal figure in the careers of some of Spanish cycling's greatest champions. Since the 1990s he has worked with riders such as José María Jiménez, Pedro Delgado and Miguel Indurain. He has played a part of eight Grand Tour wins, including Indurain's two Giro d'Italia and five Tour de France titles.
Although Contador did not reveal the names of squads interested in his signature, he acknowledged that offers from other teams had also been made, which he would continue to consider. The 26-year-old has still not ruled out the formation a new Spanish team, supported by Formula 1 driver Fernando Alonso.
"I have several possibilities, some of them attractive, and I'm giving them all due consideration. There are plenty of offers, but nothing is confirmed yet," he said. "I get along very well with Fernando and we may have an opportunity to reach an agreement, but as time goes it is becoming more and more complicated. There is the possibility that we could form our own team."
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Questions from Quick Step
Quick Step's Patrick Lefevere has also indicated his team's interest in the potential recruitment of Alberto Contador. Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf reported on Friday that the Belgian directeur had held preliminary discussions with Contador's manager and brother, Francisco Javier.
"I asked him [Francisco Javier] was whether a transfer was possible," said Lefevere. "I was told that Contador is still under contract with Astana for next season."
Quick Step's interest in Contador may indicate that they are looking to increase the depth of their squad. A traditional powerhouse in the Spring Classics, one-day and shorter stage races, the team does not currently have a recognised Grand Tour contender on their roster.
"It is also a question of whether Contador would want to ride for our team," said Lefevere. "It seems to us that he is particularly interested in moving teams, but that at the moment nothing has been decided."