Bruyneel: Armstrong close to quitting after collarbone mishap
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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Bruyneel: Armstrong close to quitting after collarbone mishap

by Bjorn Haake at 9:18 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling

Johan Bruyneel, who guided Lance Armstrong to seven Tour de France wins, said that the Texan was close to quitting after breaking his collarbone earlier this season. Bruyneel, however, was able to convince Armstrong to return to racing, using one of the American's favorite sayings.

Bruyneel revealed that Armstrong's return hung by skin of his teeth. "Nobody knows that, except for a few insiders," Bruyneel told Belgian magazine Humo. After the surgery Armstrong did not wan to return to competition. "Nobody in the US could convince him otherwise. He had no desire to race."

Bruyneel revealed that he had to force his protégé. "Lance, you have to! You can't go back." Bruyneel sent Armstrong an SMS with a saying that Armstrong often uses himself: "Pain is temporary, quitting lasts forever."

Bruyneel received no answer on his message, but it got Armstrong to think very hard about his situation. "He returned and in the Giro, he went quite well," Bruyneel said.

Armstrong crashed early in his comeback quest, in the Vuelta a Castilla y León, and fractured his collarbone. This March mishap delayed his preparation for the Giro, but he was good enough to finish 12th. He went on to finish third in the Tour de France, behind teammate Alberto Contador.

Bruyneel blasts Contador

In the interview with Humo Bruyneel also talked about Alberto Contador and the late Frank Vandenbroucke. Bruyneel offered candid words on the Spaniard. "Contador believes he won the Tour alone. That is absolutely false. Without the team he may still have won, but less comfortably so."

Bruyneel thought it was a pity that Contador never really became a part of the team. "He began to operate on his own account, with his brother Fran, his personal mechanic and his own press manager."

Bruyneel figured the problem is that Contador is viewed as a god in Spain. "Now he sees all the zeros behind his name, and that is a big problem. You can make a lot of money in cycling, but usually it goes step by step. He went in one season from a rider with a small contract to the best paid rider in the world. It is difficult to stay with the feet on the ground then."

Bruyneel remembers early days with Vandenbroucke

Bruyneel met Vandenbroucke in 1989, when he trained with the national team on the World Championships course in Chambéry, France. Vandenbroucke was there because his father was a mechanic for the team. "He was 13 years old," Bruyneel recalled.

"He wasn't racing yet. We rode the main climb of the course and Claude Criquielion and Dirk De Wolf started to make the pace." As they came over the top everybody was breathing hard from the effort, not wanting to say anything.

"But who still hung on our wheel? Little Frank!. Thirteen years, hè!"



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