Alberto Contador is pleased with the management changes made at team Astana this off-season and is ready to stay. He welcomed team manger Yvon Sanquer and directeur sportif Giuseppe Martinelli, and waits for the team to receive confirmation of its ProTour licence.
"Sanquer seems like a competent person, educated and clever. I trust him," Contador told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
The Frenchman took over for Johan Bruyneel, who leaves with Lance Armstrong to form new team RadioShack. With Bruyneel in the last two years at Astana, Contador won the 2008 Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España, and this year's Tour de France.
To help Contador keep winning, Astana also brought in Italian directors Martinelli and Guido Bontempi. Contador said he talked with Martinelli many times in the past months and that he welcomed him at his home in Pinto, Spain.
"He picked up the Giro trophy with the names inscribed and said, 'I've helped these win.' [Pantani, Garzelli, Simoni, Cunego]. His story fascinates me. Four pink jerseys with four different riders, it means he's truly good," continued Contador.
Today's deadline for all requirements to be submitted to the International Cycling Union (UCI) licensing commission is the last hurdle that remains for Contador and Astana. The commission is expected to confirm the team's financial structure if all documents are in order.
"The licence is fundamental. I would like to stay with Astana, but I will do it only if the team is ProTour," he insisted.
Kazakhstan's Vinokourov helped create the team with financial backers from his home country in 2006. His positive test for blood doping during the 2007 Tour de France forced him out of the team and cycling for two years. He returned in August with team Astana and immediately raced the Vuelta a España.
Contador refuted rumours according to which he demanded that Vinokourov skip the 2010 Tour de France and focus on the Giro d'Italia.
"It's one of the many lies that are going around. With Vino I have a good relationship and it deserves respect. I made other demands, above all ethical. The most important is that there is a strong, internal anti-doping programme."
Contador is the only active rider to have won all three Grand Tours. He won his first Grand Tour in 2007, the Tour de France.