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Contador to remain with Astana, says Vinokourov

Alexander Vinokourov (Astana)

Alexander Vinokourov (Astana) (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)

Tour de France winner Alberto Contador will obey his contract and continue with Astana in 2010, according to teammate Alexander Vinokourov.

"He will stay with us, without a doubt," Vinokourov told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "We will also resolve the problems with the UCI soon, presenting the new team structure. Cycling needs sound sponsors and ours is an important three-year project."

The International Cycling Union (UCI) is reviewing the team's structure to see if it warrants continuing as part of the UCI's top-ranked series, the ProTour. Astana made last-minute financial guarantees to avoid expulsion prior to the Tour de France early this year.

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 the sport for two years. He returned to racing in August with team Astana, but his presence might create rivalries with Spain's Contador and difficulties for a 2010 Tour invitation.

Contador, 26, has one more year in his contract with Astana and the team has already said he would remain for 2010. He said in recent months, however, that he prefers to leave the team.

"It is clear that we will aim for Alberto Contador at the Tour," continued Vinokourov. "I will be at his call. He doesn't have to worry."

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, and the Tour de France in 2007 and 2009.

Vinokourov helped shape the outcome of the Giro dell'Emilia yesterday in Bologna, Italy. He finished fifth behind winner Robert Gesink (Rabobank). He said he would like to race the Giro d'Italia in 2010.