Armstrong blasts Contador over Tour de France
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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Armstrong blasts Contador over Tour de France

by Conal Andrews at 5:16 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 

The training is ramping up, the new season is about to start, and Lance Armstrong has made it clear that there is no love between him and the rider who beat him in the 2009 Tour de France, Alberto Contador. This season was one where there was an uneasy truce between the two then-team-mates, at least until the Tour. However, in 2010 they will be in separate teams, and Armstrong has fired the first missile in the psychological battle between them.

“Eight of the nine riders who did the Tour moved away to another team. Even his room-mate [Sergio Paulinho],” he told Het Nieuwsblad. “[If that was me] I’d have looked long in the mirror. I’d never let that happen. Never. If I had to change myself to prevent it, then I would do that. If they needed more money, I would give it. I would do anything for them.

“Contador is totally different to me. It is very difficult. He knows no better. He is a Spanish guy who has always lived in the same pueblo (district). He has his friends, family, the street where he grew up, his country, his people. Great athletes like he must employ individuals who support him, have patience with him. But he is surrounded by yes-men. They say ‘yes’ a lot to him. Johan Bruyneel often says yes, but if he wants to say no, then he actually says ‘no. Lance you are wrong, that is not true.’ So he should.”

The implication that Contador lacks sophistication and awareness is one that is certain to anger the Spaniard. When he suffered hunger knock and lost the race lead in Paris-Nice earlier this year, he is known to have been upset by Armstrong’s Tweet that he has great talent, but still a lot to learn.

After all, Armstrong himself suffered a bad case of hunger knock in the 2000 Tour de France and, had he not have had a sizeable lead at that point, could have lost the Tour.

Contador recently commented on that exodus of most of the 2009 Astana team – and all eight of his fellow Tour riders – to Radioshack, dismissing any suggestion that it was a choice of one personality over another, a picking of Armstrong and Bruyneel over him. Rather, he said it was financial security that influenced some of the riders.

“It was a logical decision. I understand. RadioShack offered a project that is solid and well paid. I could offer them nothing. Until mid-December, I had no team.”

The Spaniard said little to the media during the Tour, but after the race he gave an interviews to Spanish media where he said that he had respect for Armstrong as an athlete, but not as a person. He said that he was not given the best wheels for the opening time trial and had to buy his own; it was also stated by journalists that there was a lot of tension on the team, and that he had twice been abandoned by Astana.

The first time was before the final time trial, when he had to get his brother Fran to bring him to the start after the second team car – allegedly – was used to collect Armstrong’s family from the airport, while the second was after the Mont Ventoux stage.

Armstrong lashes out at these reports, suggesting that Contador is being given an easy time by the Spanish media and that stories are being twisted.

“If you have won the Tour for just the second time and you are the king of Spain, it is normal that the stories are all right,” he said. “His career has barely begun. Let us talk again in about fifteen years. When I had to face the Spanish media during the Tour, I went from one surprise to another. We talked little about the atmosphere on the team, but apparently they do.

“If you read the Spanish sports daily Marca, there were so many dirty things, unbelievable. Complete bullsh*t, pieces of mucus, fat lies. They said we were against him during the Tour. Recently he declared he had no time trial wheels like me during the Tour. Yeah..first, this is not true. Secondly, it is easy to prove. You only have to grab the phone and call the bike manufacturer Trek. I understand that the Spanish media take their heroic stand, but it was so untrue what was printed. Come on, at the end of the day as a journalist, you f**king proclaim the truth.

“No decision was adopted during the Tour against Contador. None at all. The best example is the stage to La Grande-Motte [where the peloton lost 41 seconds to a group containing Armstrong]. He felt this was an attack on him, and so did the Spanish media. I was in a bike race and had a radio. Every five minutes we all heard Johan Bruyneel call, ‘stay in the front, keep in the front.’ All I did then was what I was supposed to do. Someone told me that he himself caused the crack in the group.”

The long interview made two things clear. Firstly, there is a lot of tension between Armstrong and rider who brought his unbeaten Tour record to an end. Secondly, the 2010 edition of the race will see sparks fly as the two wage outright war. This time, there will be no holds barred.

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