Tour de France: Alberto Contador is the most talented, says Lance Armstrong
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Thursday, July 08, 2010

Tour de France: Alberto Contador is the most talented, says Lance Armstrong

by Ben Atkins at 3:50 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
American acknowledges young Spaniard's superiority as former adversaries put past conflicts behind them

lance armstrongThe conflict between seven-time winner Lance Armstrong and current number one Alberto Contador is no more, the American told Het Laatse Nieuws. Problems arose while the two riders were battling for Tour de France supremacy on the same Astana team last July; now they’re chasing the same prize on different teams however, all is relaxed between them.

“The tension between us has gone,” said Armstrong before today’s 187.5km stage between Épernay and Montargis. “There is a mutual respect, despite everything that’s happened in the last 12 months; we’re tired of being at odds with one another. Now we’re looking forward to the next two weeks, it should decide which one of us is the best.”

Whichever one comes out on top at the end of the three-week race though, Armstrong can see which one of the two rivals is the better rider.

“I have no problem with saying that he’s probably the most talented,” he conceded, “What we saw of him last year, which was truly impressive both in terms of climbing and time trialling, recovery and mental strength.”

It has been a day of mutual appreciation for the two big adversaries; this morning Contador delivered a pair of watches to Armstrong and director sportif Johan Bruyneel as a thank you gift for their part in his Tour victory last year. The other seven riders on last year’s Astana team (all of whom defected to RadioShack with Armstrong and Bruyneel) had already received theirs.

“That was very generous,” said Armstrong of the gift. “He clearly realises what an excellent team it was that he had behind him last year.”

Having confirmed that this year’s race really will be his last Tour de France, Armstrong will be hanging up his wheels once the race arrives in Paris. In many ways this can’t come quickly enough for the record-breaking American, and he knows exactly what he’s going to do with his time.

“I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “Don’t get me wrong, I stand here enormously motivated at the start. But the stress of the first four days has been too much. After my retirement I’ll go to the beach and maybe follow some races.

“Then I can call Johan Bruyneel with some simple advice if he needs it!” he added with a laugh.

After the opening prologue and five road stages Armstrong trails Contador by 50 seconds, where he had hoped to have taken time out of his young rival on the classics-style stages of Belgium and northern France; the 38-year-old literally has a mountain to climb if he is to overcome his young former teammate.

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