Reuters - Wed, 28 Jul 13:01:00 2010
Tour de France champion Alberto Contador has decided not to renew his contract with Astana and will leave the Kazakh-funded team at the end of the season.
"Although the position of both parties was not so far from each other, the team wanted to know urgently whether or not (he would renew his contract)," said a statement from Contador's press officer.
"Alberto Contador has rejected the ultimatum of Astana," the statement read, adding the team had expected a decision by Tuesday at the latest on their offer to extend his contract for an unspecified number of seasons.
"His contract will end at the end of this season.
"After winning the 2010 Tour he will take time to calmly study all the offers that come his way for racing in the coming seasons, without any of them being ruled out at the moment."
Reports have suggested the 27-year-old could join up with team manager Bjarne Riis, who has been looking for sponsors.
Contador joined Astana in 2008 after the Discovery Channel team was disbanded following the Pinto-born rider's Tour triumph in 2007.
With Astana, Contador won the Tour de France twice in 2009 and 2010 as well as the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta (both 2008).
But following his 2009 Tour win, Contador's future with Astana appeared uncertain after a turbulent year marked by delayed wages and a difficult relationship with his then team-mate Lance Armstrong.
Seven-times Tour champion Armstrong and team manager Johan Bruyneel quit Astana to form RadioShack and Contador eventually agreed to stay with the Kazakh-based outfit until the end of 2010.
Contador won the Paris-Nice race with Astana in March and then added a third Tour title last Sunday, beating Luxembourg's Andy Schleck by 39 seconds in the General Classification.