Contador meets with Bruyneel, says he'll ride with Astana

Updated: October 18, 2008, 6:34 PM ET
Associated Press

MADRID, Spain -- Alberto Contador confirmed Saturday he will ride for Astana in 2009 after the Spaniard's future was put in doubt when Lance Armstrong joined the Kazahk team.

Contador, the 2007 Tour de France champion, met with Astana boss Johan Bruyneel following weeks of uncertainty over his future since the arrival of Armstrong, a seven-time Tour winner.

"[After] talking over things that have gone on in these last few months and some articles that have been published, we have eased all the tension that existed between us. As a consequence, I can state that I will continue in the Astana team next year," Contador said in a statement.

Contador, contracted with the Kazahk team through 2010, said he was confident the team was going in the right direction despite holding two riders with clear ambitions to take the Tour crown.

But Bruyneel obviously calmed some nerves.

"I think everything is going to develop much better than had seemed possible at the outset," Contador said. "If each of us formulates his own calendar there won't be any problem nor inconvenience.

"It's also true that I am ambitious and when it was first mooted that [Armstrong] wanted to go for an eighth Tour I thought to myself this could complicate our partnership, but I think that with good team management there will be no problems in France.

"As for the rest of the year, I have no qualms."

Armstrong is mounting a comeback after three years of retirement.

Contador, 25, is focused on next season's Tour after being denied the chance to defend his crown this year when Astana was barred from competing due to previous doping controversies. Contador won the Giro d'Italia and the Spanish Vuelta instead to become the fifth rider -- and first Spaniard -- to sweep cycling's three major events. He also did it the fastest, needing only 15 months.

Contador hinted the 37-year-old Armstrong's desire to win the Giro would make the partnership easier to swallow since it would free the Spaniard to lead the Tour chase.

But he maintained a cautious tone.

"First we have to see what happens in the first part of the season, but if the team organizes itself well and we manage to get motivated, with a fluid relationship, incompatibilities aren't going to be as great as originally foreseen," he said. "It's true that I would like to win, but there won't be incompatibility."

Contador reiterated what he told the Associated Press in a previous interview, that he would take part in about six races next year, with the Tour the only likely definite. That will be discussed at a training meeting in Tenerife in November.

"We will talk to our directors there to avoid any conflicts, because there may have been too high an expectation arising from all this, which is understandable," he said. "We are going to be just two more colleagues within the team, and there won't be any tension arising from my quarter."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press