29 Jul 2010

Contador to leave Astana

7:30 am on 29 July 2010

Tour de France champion Alberto Contador has decided not to renew his contract with Astana and will leave the Kazakh-funded team at the end of the season.

Reports have suggested the 27-year-old could join up with team manager Bjarne Riis who has been looking for sponsors.

Contador joined Astana in 2008 after the Discovery Channel team was disbanded following the Pinto-born rider's Tour triumph in 2007.

With Astana, Contador won the Tour de France twice in 2009 and 2010 as well as the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta (both 2008).

But following his 2009 Tour win, Contador's future with Astana appeared uncertain after a turbulent year marked by delayed wages and a difficult relationship with his then team mate Lance Armstrong.

Seven-times Tour champion Armstrong and team manager Johan Bruyneel quit Astana to form RadioShack and Contador eventually agreed to stay with the Kazakh-based outfit until the end of 2010.

Contador won the Paris-Nice race with Astana in March and then added a third Tour title last Sunday, beating Luxembourg's Andy Schleck by 39 seconds in the overall classification.