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Contador mulls his own pro team for 2017

MADRID (AFP) — Alberto Contador said Monday he was mulling over an idea to launch his own professional team in 2017, not ruling out himself out as a potential rider.

“I have two options in my head: One is to carry on if I suffer a mishap on the Tour, as I did in 2014, and the other is to launch a professional team,” said Contador, a three-time Vuelta winner (2008, 2012, 2014), double Giro champion (2008, 2015), and twice winner of the Tour de France (2007, 2009).

The second option, the Spaniard said, was “complicated” and involved a “very high budget” of around 15 million euros for a team to compete at WorldTour level. His Tinkoff team will lose its title sponsor at the end of 2016.

Barring injury or accident, this season was expected to be the 33-year-old’s last. The Madrid-born racer is targeting the Tour de France and Rio Olympics as a perfect send-off, having often stressed that he wanted to go out at the top.

Contador, who was stripped of the 2010 Tour de France and 2011 Giro titles over a failed anti-doping test, said he would only consider racing for the team should it be competitive at the Tour.

“If it couldn’t support me at the highest level, it’s maybe not so interesting for me,” the Spaniard said, also praising the 2016 Team Sky line-up built around British arch-rival Chris Froome. “No other team is at their level,” he said. “They can just about send out two full teams for the Tour de France.”

One of Contador’s contemporaries, and a Sky alum, Bradley Wiggins, started his own eponymous team after leaving the British WorldTour outfit. Team Wiggins competes as a UCI Continental squad, with its leader, the 2012 Tour de France champion, often racing with and mentoring his young riders.