By Antonio J. Salmerón
After the announcement of the Tour de France organisation ASO to not invite his team Astana to the next Grande Boucle, the 2007 winner Alberto Contador said yesterday on Spanish radio that this would not make him change his season plans significantly. The rider did not think about leaving his Astana team, despite the fact that the organisers of the Tour left a door open to the Spaniard if he would change jerseys. Moreover, Contador still remained hopeful to be part of this year's Tour de France.
The Spaniard had "many solutions" in mind, but not currently thought to go to the French Grand Tour with another formation. "I do not want to race in a team that does not know how to give me support," Contador said last night in an interview on the sports radio programme El Larguero.
"I will not leave the team," insisted Contador, who did not lose hope of being included in the race, although he knew that "it won't be easy." He also believed that ASO should give a "vote of confidence" to the sponsor of the team, Astana.
The Spanish rider said that he was "optimistic" about his presence in the Tour. "The team is completely different, and when we were with the organisers at the presentation, they told us that there were no problems," said Contador, who noted that it was a "surprise" that the team was not invited the Tour of Italy, neither.
Still, the rider from Madrid feared "the worst" with the passing of days and regretted his possible absence from the Tour because he had everything planned. "We had prepared a lot - I hadn't gone to see the climbs yet but I had planned all the dates for training in the Pyrenees and Alps," he said.
For the moment, Contador will not change a lot of his season planning. "I have to omit Paris-Nice (organised by ASO) and go to the Tour of Murcia (March 4-8) instead. Then go to Castilla y Leon and the Basque Country. After that, I will rest and then make the two training camps in the Alps and Pyrenees. I'd like to do the Dauphiné and then we will see," he said.