Montpellier (cyclingfans.com) - Astana's Alberto Contador, winner of the 2009 Tour de France, has won the prestigious Velo d'Or ("golden bicycle") award for the third time, tying the record of consecutive wins held by Lance Armstrong, overall a 5-time winner. The award is given annually to the rider considered to have performed best during the year. Created by the French Velo Magazine in 1992, the Velo d'Or winner is selected by an international panel of journalists who individually rank their top 3 candidates for the award. A point system results in an overall score for each rider that was named by journalists, the rider with the most overall points winning the award. Voting was closed on September 29 meaning that Philippe Gilbert's fantastic run in October was not considered.
Contador flew to Paris this afternoon and was presented his Velo d'Or trophy live on France TV's Stade2 program. During the program, Contador acknowledges that he will need to train hard on cobblestones before the 2010 Tour de France. When asked when he will make a decision on which team to race for next season, he indicated that a lot will happen in the next week. He presumably was referring to reports that he would soon meet with Astana officials to learn of their plans for him for 2010. Contador has long been linked to the Caisse d'Epargne, Garmin-Slipstream and Quick Step teams; Caisse is considered the front runner should the 2009 Tour champion decide to leave Astana. He became free to leave Astana when the team recently missed an administrative deadline related to its ProTour license registration for the 2010 season.
Alberto Contador wins the 2009 Velo d'Or (France 2)
France TV also played a video document with highlights of Contador's 2009 season, including his bonk at Paris-Nice while wearing the leader jersey, and his career which has included an inspiring return from a near fatal accident.
Alberto Contador, season and career highlights (France 2)
A Velo d'Or is also given annually to the top French rider as picked by a panel of French journalists. Track star Gregory Bauge won the 2009 award.