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With is contract due to finish at the end of the current season, Alberto Contador, Tinkoff-Saxo owner Oleg Tinkov and general manager Bjarne Riis have announced Tuesday that the Spaniard will extend with the team for one year more prior to retirement.
“For me it was something very important. I knew I could not wait much more because if I had to choose another option it should have been done much in advance, in order to adequately prepare the team,” the six-time Grand Tour winner said.
“We have been thoroughly assessing all aspects and in Tinkoff-Saxo we have a group that can fully guarantee the challenge of the Grand Tours.”
Contador said that having such a guarantee in place is vital for him. It means he doesn’t have to worry about finding a similar setup and support elsewhere, and can concentrate fully on this goals.
“For that reason I am very happy to have closed the deal. It is already five years that I have been working with Bjarne Riis and the possibility to continue for another year is satisfying,” he said.
Now 32 years of age, Contador is still a young rider by today’s standards. However he already indicated that he was likely to hang up his wheels in advance of the 2017 season; Tinkov has now confirmed that is the case.
“I’m very happy that Alberto will lead Tinkoff-Saxo in 2016 as well, because I truly believe he is the best cyclist in the world and I am convinced he will continue to be so for a few more years,” he said.
“Unfortunately, he decided he would retire at the end of next year which means he will race with my team for two full seasons.
“I would have, obviously, preferred him to stay longer but that was his personal decision.”
Still, he acknowledges that he has enough time left to achieve some big things. “I am very proud that Alberto’s impressive career will conclude in my team and I hope he takes the Tinkoff-Saxo colours to the top step of the Tour de France podium in 2015 and 2016.”
Contador won the Vuelta a España last season, bouncing back after crashing out of the Tour de France with a fracture. He won the Tour in 2007 and 2009 and is aiming to do so again this year, but intends taking the Giro d’Italia first.
If he does that, he will be the first rider to do the double since Marco Pantani in 1998.
Riis will likely guide him in those aims and said he was very happy the Spaniard is staying on with the team.
“Everybody knows I am a big fan of his and I look forward to working with him for another year. It’s also extremely important for the team to have as a leader a champion of his calibre.
“This will be a very important year for Alberto and I’m confident it is going to be a good one. I have built a big part of the team around him and Tinkoff-Saxo will continue to fully support him. I believe that this is the best decision that Alberto could have made.”
Stage winner and second overall in the recent Vuelta a Andalucia/Ruta del Sol, Contador will begin Tirreno-Adriatico on Wednesday.