Deciding to remain within the sport after some time contemplating retirement, the 2006 Tour de France winner Oscar Pereiro will look to regain his best form in time for next year’s race. The motivation for that is not to chase personal success, but rather to help compatriot Alberto Contador take what would be his third Tour victory.
Speaking on the Radio Galega programme, the 32-year-old said that he’d committed to Astana, but also had an option to go to Quick Step if the Kazakh team lost its ProTour licence.
Astana received notification today that it would retain the licence, and thus Pereiro will be riding for the squad in 2010.
“I signed for a year,” he said, indicating that the deal was done last week. He had previously been in talks with the Xacebeo team from his region of Galicia, but nothing came of that. “I imagine that the problem is an economic one,” he said, before adding, “things in Xacobeo are not done as well as they could be.”
Pereiro finished tenth in the Tour on three different occasions, and led the race for several days in 2006. He was second in Paris but was subsequently named as the winner after Floyd Landis tested positive for testosterone. He rode for team leader Alejandro Valverde in the 2008 Tour but crashed hard on the 15th stage of the race, pitching over a guardrail and hitting the road below.
The physical and mental effects of that crash made it difficult to come back and he was far below his usual form in this year’s Tour. He quit on stage eight and considered giving up the sport, but now will try to help Contador take another maillot jaune to Paris.
While Astana has lost many strong riders to RadioShack, the young Spaniard will be backed by others such as Pereiro, Jesus Hernandez, Benjamin Noval, David de la Fuente, Enrico Gasparotto, Gorazd Stangelj and Paolo Tiralongo. Alexandre Vinokourov is also on the team but it is uncertain if he would be permitted to ride the Tour.
The Kazakh failed a doping control test for homologous blood transfusion during the 2007 race, and so his presence may not be welcomed by organisers ASO. Contador is also said to have expressed reservations about the Vinokourov taking part, although this has been played down of late.
Providing Pereiro regains form, he would appear to be a shoo-in for the Tour squad. He’s a good climber, an experienced competitor, and would be of considerable value to Contador in the mountains.
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