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Astana to World: Hands Off Our Man!

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Kazakh Fed President Nikolai Proskurin:

“We have absolutely no problems with Alberto Contador, and he will compete with Astana next season... The issue is simply that we need to provide additional documents because we have changed our sponsors.”

Translation: Astana have declared Contador's contract valid and binding. Whether anyone else agrees is another matter, but Contador himself is starting to sound like he's preparing for another year with Astana, willingly or not. In AS.com today:

Alberto Contador said that among the options were "Garmin or Caisse d'Epargne, but also is Astana, with whom I still have a one year contract and it seems they are doing a new project that is taking shape."

This is a different tune than he had been singing, the one where he expected to leave if it was possible. Contador seems to be putting a brave face on about Astana, which suggests that his attorneys may have told him that the exit door is barred for now. There was some twitting about him being able to walk if Astana are denied a Tour invite, or if they have a doping positive, but neither of those contingencies is overly realistic. ASO will not lightly bar Astana if Contador is on the team (though they may block Vinokourov personally). And until there's a positive test, we shall assume the best about the blood content of Contador's teammates.

The scuttlebutt around Contador's landing spot pointed squarely at Garmin, and that may be the case whenever the Tour champion is free to choose a new team, no later than next fall. Right now though, the tea leaves are pointing back at the Baby Blues.