Paris: Tour de France champion Alberto Contador is free to leave Astana since the Kazakh team have not yet been granted their elite status for 2010, according to the International Cycling Union’s regulations.
Spaniard Contador has repeatedly said he wanted to leave Astana in order to join a team with the capacities to support him in his bid for a third Tour de France victory next year.
On Thursday night, the UCI published a list of teams whose ProTour licence, which gives a team the right to take part in the biggest races, had been granted.
Astana, along with Team Sky, Caisse d’Epargne, Saxo Bank and Euskaltel Euskadi, were not on the list.
Although they have until Nov. 20 to meet the UCI’s requirement to get a ProTour licence, the governing body’s regulations state that a rider is free to go if his team has not had their licence renewed by Oct. 20.
“The Rider may terminate the present contract, without notice nor liability for damages (...) if, on 20 October of the year preceding a year of registration covered by the present contract, the UCI ProTeam has not submitted a registration file containing the essential documents,” the UCI regulations say.
Contador has been contacted by Quick Step and has expressed interest in the Garmin-Slipstream and Caisse d’Epargne teams.
His brother and agent, Fran Contador, told www.as.com: “If this clause exists, we must look at the options that it offers.”