Lance Armstrong: conflict with Contador was real
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Thursday, December 03, 2009

Lance Armstrong: conflict with Contador was real

by Ben Atkins at 1:33 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 

Lance Armstrong admits that he deliberately created conflict with rivals during his seven-year Tour de France reign, but insists that his latest conflict with current Tour champion Alberto Contador is real.

Probably the most famous incident during Armstrong’s reign was the “did Ullrich wait” episode at the 2003 Tour. Despite conceding that his big rival Jan Ullrich had acted properly after a spectator’s souvenir bag caught Armstrong’s handlebars and brought him crashing to the ground at the base of the climb to Luz-Ardiden. Armstrong later accused the German of attacking as he picked himself up from the road. The media storm that this created dominated the post-Tour period of 2003, and the build up to the next year’s race.

In an interview with Australian magazine Sport&Style he admitted that incidents like this were fabricated to create conflict with his chief rivals and help give him a competitive edge.

“We would create those things,” he said. “But I am a different person than I was 10 years ago.”

When asked specifically about his apparent rift with Contador however, he claimed: “We are not making it up. It’s there.”

During this summer’s Tour de France Lance Armstrong, and a number of his fans, posted several comments on the social networking site Twitter criticising Contador’s racing. On the stage to La Grande Motte where Armstrong made the front group after team Columbia-HTC forced a split in the crosswinds and Contador didn’t, the American criticised his younger teammate’s apparent lack of experience. Days later, when Contador attacked the rest of the favourites on the summit finish to Andorra-Arcalis, he was blasted for going against team orders.

Contador, in contrast, preferred to do his talking on the road – until after the Tour when he told a Madrid press conference: “even if he is a great champion, I have never had admiration for him and I never will.”

This was met with a quick response from Armstrong on Twitter: “Seeing these comments from AC. If I were him I would drop this drivel and start thanking his team. w/o [without] them, he doesn't win.”

Since then, it appears that Armstrong’s view towards his former teammate has not mellowed, as he told Sport&Style: “It's no secret we are not friends. It was just typical. Young guy, tons of success, never faltered. I called his PR guy and said, 'I don't want to tell you what to do, but I don't think that's such a good thing to say. That's stupid.’”

Despite claiming a very real nature to the rift with his current main rival, Armstrong admits that the publicity generated will do next summer’s showdown no harm at all. “It will make for an epic build-up, an epic Tour. Those key stages will be epic,” he said.

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