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Contador to Caisse? Ah...

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Color me skeptical. From VN, here's Caisse d'Epargne director Eusebio Unzue politely answering a question from El Diario Navarra:

“Signing (Contador) is feasible, but difficult. He has to get out of his contract with Astana and we’d need a second sponsor to be able to do it. We’re looking for a second sponsor now to try.”

Does this sound at all likely? The media love to get a head start on transfer rumors, i.e. before the riders and teams have a chance to really explore things themselves, and the early rumors draw heavily on conventional wisdom like "he lives near one of the guys from Lampre" or "his wife is friends with the Schlecks". In this case the connection is that Contador is Spanish, and Caisse d'Epargne has grand tour ambitions, thanks to Unzue's track record (remember Indurain?) and the nature of Spanish cycling generally. And obviously Unzue is doing his due diligence -- he'd be chased out of Spain if he didn't. But really, that's about it.

Contador followed the money and his Bruyneel connection to the otherwise unlikely destination of Astana. Chances are Contador will again follow the money, as long as it comes with a clear team structure wherein he's the GC guy and can count on some help. I can't see him accepting a hometown discount, since cycling teams are kind of international anyway and there are plenty of quasi-Spanish outfits, if few officially Spanish teams, who have some money. Landing another sponsor in time is the key, then, but that's never easy.

Worse, this has been Valverde's team for years, and will stay that way if he wins the Vuelta. Isn't this maybe Lance/Astana all over again for him? I really, really can't see him going to a team that has multiple GC options, not after the misery he just endured. As with the money, I wouldn't rule out Caisse d'Epargne pulling it off, but convincing Contador that there will be no internal divisions may be even trickier than scaring up the funds. If there is another team with the money, and with the ability to put their whole summer squad behind Contador and nobody else, I bet he takes a long, hard look at that team instead.