Armstrong and Contador: the gloves are off

Contador: "no admiration for Armstrong". Armstrong: "Drivel"

by Dave Atkinson   July 28, 2009  

Contador and Armstrong on Mont Ventoux (Photosport International)

Well there was a lot of talk during the tour about the relationship between Astana's two stars, Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong, but radio silence was more or less kept by the team about any internal squabbles, and the Kazakh-backed team went on to score first and third overall.

But if we were in any doubt about the feelings the two have for each other, we're not now: Contador used a press conference yesterday to put the knife in to the seven-time Tour winner, and Lance wasn't slow with a comeback.

"My relationship with Armstrong is nothing", he told a press conference in Madrid. "He's a great rider but I've never had much admiration for him on a personal level". Asked whether he had a message for America, Contador replied, "I have nothing to say. I congratulate him on his third place".

Tellingly, Contador also used the press conference to compare his position in the team with that of Fernando Alonso with Lewis Hamilton at McLaren, lending more weight to the rumours that Contador will ride next year for an Alonso-backed team. Wherever he rides, says Contador, "the team that I go to will have to be 100% behind me"

Contador also confirmed that the atmosphere in the hotel was very difficult, and criticised Johan Bruyneel for favouring Armstrong, although he said that he "understood" their relationship.

The 2009 winner also responded to Greg Lemond's assertion that he should prove he's capable of the power levels he showed in the tour without doping, saying that he didn't afford Lemond's comments "the slightest importance".

Armstrong had until now been complimentary about Contador's win. "I think this year's performance would have beaten my performances in 2001, 2004 and 2005," he said at a recent press meet. "Contador is that good, so I don't see how I would have been higher than that, even in the other years."

Never one to shy away from conflict however, Armstrong has been quick to respond via twitter. "Seeing these comments from AC. If I were him I'd drop this drivel and start thanking his team. w/o them, he doesn't win", he countered, and we've no doubt that we'll hear more – much more – in the near future. Axel Merckx has chipped in on Twitter to side with Lance: "A champion is also measured on how much he respect his teammates and opponents. You can win a race on your own not a grand tour", he opines.

Light the blue touch paper, stand well back...

9 user comments

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Contador really can be very naive. Of all the people not to slate in public, I would have to put Lance a close second behind the Prophet Mohammed PBUH.

And having won, why does he need to mouth off anyway?

posted by woody [14 posts]
28th July 2009 - 10:52

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i agree: he's got no need to stick his oar in cause his legs did the talking. i think that he's got a steep learning curve coming: would astana have been 1-3 in the tour without their strategic alliances in the peloton? those were built on Armstrong's understanding of how the sport works and his relationships with the other riders. it's not just about your own team. if you piss everyone off they'll just stick you on the front and suck your wheel till you drop...

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posted by cactuscat [301 posts]
28th July 2009 - 11:08

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incidentally i've got no great love for Armstrong, but i think contador's being a bit of a tit so i'm with Lance on this one.

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posted by cactuscat [301 posts]
28th July 2009 - 11:09

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How ungrateful, he's not endearing himself to any fans, maybe his sponsors as well.

posted by Alankk [121 posts]
28th July 2009 - 11:38

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I agree with cactus, Lance has done some amazing things in his career but has made enemies due to his arrogance and management of the sport. However, when contador was leading Lance was more humble and grounded than Ive seen him before stating that contador was clearly the best rider, that he (lance) wasnt up with him or schleck, that the better riders were ahead of him etc. Contador won, that says it all. Alberto, be quiet, you arent coming out of this as well as the winner of the tour should.

not all carbon is the same.

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posted by Jon Burrage [1080 posts]
28th July 2009 - 12:19

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Ok, Lance might not be perfect, but lets face it he's not a shabby rider. Personally I admire him for what he's done post cancer, & raising awareness of cancer in mens bits! - as a rider - early in his career, i thought him very arogant (& foolish), now he's just a bit cocky!!
You Have to admit though - a good tour for an unretired rider. Contador is being a bit daft with his comments - he wouldn't have done it without his team & Lance is/was (delete as appropriate!!)part of the same team.

posted by Simon [59 posts]
28th July 2009 - 21:22

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certainly lance managed not to be the most arrogant rider in the tour this year, although i guess if you can win six stages you can be as arrogant as you like... Big Grin Big Grin

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posted by Barry Fry-up [187 posts]
29th July 2009 - 9:51

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I share Alberto Contador's views of Lance Armstrong and he has stated only what I thought. I did not see the Astana team actively helping Contador as much as they did Armstrong, and Johann Bruyneel blatantly favours Armstrong either because of their friendship or his hopes that he will get a job in his new team. Ok Armstrong didn't actually attack him during the race but maybe he couldn't. I can understand why Lance Armstrong is admired for his achievements as an athlete but as a person? It is a bit like saying that Mussolini got the Italian trains to run on time.

posted by billiobob [48 posts]
29th July 2009 - 11:19

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I share his views, the issue is whether he is wise to express them- remember Lance hell bent on denying Simeoni a chance in a breakaway because he openly criticized Dr. Ferrari? Lance bears grudges, and will pursue you through the courts, or on the roads to the end of the Earth.

Now Contador will have both Astana and Radio Shack riding against him. Maybe he thought it was too easy this year and wants a challenge?

posted by woody [14 posts]
29th July 2009 - 11:48

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