RUMILLY, France (VN) — The news of Alberto Contador signing a deal to return to Saxo Bank after his doping ban ends spread through the cycling world today. And while the news contradicted the popular rumor of the week, team bosses like Johan Bruyneel and Jim Ochowicz were not surprised by the Spaniard’s move.
Contador agreed to a deal that links him to the Danish team through 2015. He won’t return to racing until his retroactive two-year doping ban ends in early August, but will watch this year’s Tour de France with attention. Contador has officially won the race two times, losing his 2010 title to Andy Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan) as part of the ban.
RadioShack’s team manager, Johan Bruyneel guided Contador to his first Tour de France win. In fact, the Saxo Bank press release alluded to him today, reading: “A lot of speculations and rumors have surrounded Alberto Contador and his future.”
The rumors were that Andy and his brother Fränk were unhappy with Bruyneel running their team and that they were trying to re-join with their former team manager, Bjarne Riis. Riis, the 1996 Tour winner, signed Contador at the end of 2010 after the Schlecks announced they were leaving to form Luxembourg’s first top team.
The rumors continued that Bruyneel wanted to sign Contador to replace the Schlecks, who have had a difficult start to the season.
“I’ve read it,” Bruyneel told VeloNews of the rumors. “I don’t know if the Schlecks have been taking to Riis, but I’ve not been talking to Contador. We still have a good relationship, but we have a team and contracts [with the Schlecks] in place until 2014. We have sponsors who are committed. The rumors were rumors, at least [as far as] I’m concerned, there was no substance.”
Five days into what has been a difficult and disappointing Critérium du Dauphiné, Schleck spoke to journalists at the same time. He finished in a 23-man group, 13:59 behind stage winner Arthur Vichot (FDJ-BigMat) on Friday. But next month, Schleck will try to beat Sky’s Dauphiné leader Bradley
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