By Monika Prell
With Astana as the only ProTour team to be excluded from the Tour de France, all of Spain has been up in arms over the loss of last year's Tour de France winner Alberto Contador's chance to defend his title. According to Diario Vasco, there could be an opportunity for Contador to participate in the ranks of the Caisse d'Epargne team, however the rider has insisted that he will remain loyal to the Astana team and its manager, Johan Bruyneel.
The rumours of a switch continued despite the insistence of Caisse d'Epargne director Eusebio Unzué that his team has not approached Contador to ride the Tour, although he admitted that this is a question that "they should ask". According to Unzué, however, it would have to be Astana and Contador who take the initiative in such discussions.
Unzué opined that "it is difficult that Contador can not participate in the Tour, because it's always the winner who is setting the priorities. But the organisers don't want to risk any sort of question of their image
The Spanish speculation is driven by the fantasy that Contador, as part of a Tour team for Caisse d'Epargne, would make for a powerhouse squad alongside 2006 Tour winner Oscar Pereiro, Alejandro Valverde, David Arroyo and others.
Unzué expressed his optimism for the sport over the introduction of the biological passports, but sees some problems on the horizon if the political issues between the UCI and race organisers isn't ironed out quickly. "I see difficulties in resolving the conflict between the UCI and ASO. If we don't react immediately, we will disappear within three years," he warned.
According to Unzué, "cycling needs to get all its parts in place. If we could have one or two years without scandals, this would be the best medicine."