Contador turns down Astana offer, says agent

PARIS Fri Jul 31, 2009 11:43am EDT

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PARIS (Reuters) - Tour de France winner Alberto Contador has turned down an offer to extend his contract with Astana and wants to leave the Kazakh-funded team, his brother and agent was quoted as saying Friday.

Astana had made the rider a lucrative offer to sign for another four years but the Spaniard declined it, Fran Contador told French sports daily L'Equipe.

Contador's current contract runs until the end of next year.

"I answered that we were refusing it and Alberto's future was not a question of money," Fran Contador said. "I said Alberto had been through a testing season psychologically and we now had to look after his future and ensure him peace."

Contador won the 2009 Tour but endured a difficult relationship with American team mate Lance Armstrong, who finished third.

Armstrong has said he would quit Astana to form a U.S.-based team in 2010 in partnership with RadioShack Corporation.

"This season, we had (Astana team manager Johan) Bruyneel on one side, the Kazakh staff on the other and Alberto in the middle of all that without really knowing what was going on," Fran said.

"We have nothing against the Kazakhs, on the contrary, but now we need to think seriously about Alberto. Things are too complicated at the moment for us to continue in such conditions. We just need to find a solution for the year left in Alberto's contract."

(Writing by Patrick Vignal, editing by Peter Rutherford)

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