Cyclingnews.com reports that the Belgian press claim that Astana are offering Alberto Contador a huge wad to stay with the team for four years (Astana offer Contador up to €8 million per year). This is apparently double what Contador has asked for to stay.
Interestingly, Astana’s finances have been sufficiently rocky that they nearly didn’t get to start the Tour de France this year, and they were sufficiently dilatory in completing their UCI paperwork that Contador has an exit right from the team. Whether Astana would be able to come up with the cash, is something of a moot point.
The sticking point may be Contador’s insistence on two specific terms: firstly that in the event of a positive dope test within the team he gets to leave, and secondly that Alexandre Vinokourov doesn’t ride the Tour de France.
These two issues are surely linked, and will prove difficult. Vino has a track record as a doper, and after last year’s fracas within the Bruyneel-led team in which the squad was split between Armstrong and Contador, leaving the younger and stronger rider rather isolated, I am not surprised that he considers Vino’s presence at the Tour de France would be a bad idea for him. Particularly since Astana is a Kazakh team, and there will undoubtedly be calls for it to be led by Vino in the major tours, in particular the Tour de France.
Personally, I reckon Contador should walk.