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Contador, Astana to ride Specialized

Bicycle manufacturer Specialized announced today that it will supply the Astana team in 2010, something it admits is the "worst kept secret of all time". The company ended its relationship with the Quick Step team in favour of the squad of two-time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador.

Contador said in a statement that he has already been training on his new equipment, and said he has been happy with the change.

"The bike meets all my requirements, it is rigid, lightweight and above all, Specialized are open to all suggestions, which is important, because winning often depends on small details. It's the same for everything, I am very pleased with all the team equipment. We have chosen what we felt was the best in every case, groups, wheels, tires and clothing. For me it's fundamental."

Contador has completed his first block of training, and is looking forward to beginning the 2010 season at the Volta ao Algarve in Portugal on February 17.

"Last year, I really liked the race and I think it is an ideal way to start the season. In 2009 I won, but this year I'm going to take it relatively easy, although I always like to show up in good form for races, and I am eager to start racing."

Next on the agenda is Paris-Nice, a race which Contador looked to win before he had one bad day and lost the overall lead to his fellow Spaniard Luis Leon Sanchez. This year, Contador said he aims to focus on getting his Astana team well coordinated and to use tactics to control the race.

After the RadioShack team of Lance Armstrong gutted the Astana roster, taking most of the team's strongest riders, Contador says the team is starting from zero, with almost everything being new. However, he has faith that the team will come through.

"I am confident about my teammates and I think we'll have a strong and competitive team this year. Everyone is very motivated because we know we will always have a lot of responsibility and cannot just stroll through the races. The team will be at a maximum level".

Following Paris-Nice, Contador plans to race the Volta a Catalunya and probably the Tour of the Basque Country, "but I have also left open the option of doing the Classics, but that will be examined later."

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