Spain's Alberto Contador welcomed the International Cycling Union's decision Wednesday that allowed his Astana team to keep its ProTour licence for 2010. The Spaniard is ready to work towards a third Tour de France win in July, although rider departures such as Lance Armstrong have weakened the team.
"I am pleased with this solution because it was time to clarify my future. I had reached a preliminary agreement with the team and was all pending on the licence. Finally, as expected, I will continue with Astana,” Contador said in a press release.
After reviewing the team's budget for 2010, the UCI ProTour Council (UPTC) accepted the outfit's registration for 2010 along with 16 other top-level teams. The UPTC delayed its decision on Astana in the last two months and Contador threatened to leave if the team failed to receive its ProTour licence.
Though Contador is staying, the team for 2010 is completely different. Lance Armstrong left and formed team RadioShack, taking with him several key helpers and team manager Johan Bruyneel.
The Kazakhstan team brought in Frenchman Yvon Sanquer to replace Bruyneel and two new sports directors, Giuseppe Martinelli and Guido Bontempi. In the last two months, the three have signed several new riders to support Contador.
"I am very satisfied with the technical team because they are doing a very serious job," Contador continued. "I think we will have a good team for the Tour. It won't be as powerful, especially in terms of names, but I am confident on how we'll work and the motivation we'll have for the Tour."
The 27-year-old said that he has yet to decide on his early season programme, but plans for it to be lighter. This season, he won the Volta ao Algarve, the País Vasco and the national time trial championship leading up to his second Tour de France win.
Contador is the only active rider to have won all three Grand Tours. He won the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España in 2008 in addition to two editions of the Tour de France.