In his latest blog, Astana team manager Johan Bruyneel sheds some light on the internal relationship between himself, 2009 Tour de France winner Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong… and attempts to heal some of the wounds.

Both Bruyneel and Armstrong have been subjected to a lot of flak for their post-Tour comments in response to statements made by Contador about his poor treatment by the team during the Tour. The Spanish press, in particular, have been quick to criticise both Bruyneel and Armstrong.

Having been bullish in previous statements seemingly aimed at Contador, particularly via Twitter, Bruyneel now seems to be on a damage limitation exercise.

“A few years ago, I never would have imagined winning my ninth Yellow Jersey,” writes Bruyneel. “Seven times with Lance Armstrong, now twice with Alberto Contador.”

“A lot has been written and said about the war between Lance and Alberto. I always knew that the race would decide who would be the leader of the team,” Bruyneel continued.

“I know that some people thought that since I have a special relationship with Lance, that I would make decisions that influenced the race for Lance, however this is the contrary. My main concern was winning the Tour de France – whether it be with Alberto, Lance, Levi or Andreas.”

The Belgian also revealed that Armstrong had told him that he would understand if Bruyneel chose the younger Spaniard over himself as team leader. “With Contador you are ‘good’ for five, six years”, Armstrong is quoted as saying.

Armstrong announced during the Tour de France he would be leaving Astana to set up a new team for 2010 sponsored by US-based electronics retailer RadioShack. Bruyneel is almost certain to go with him, as are US team-mates Levi Leipheimer and Chris Horner.

Contador himself has not made public any decision on his future choice of team. If he does stay at Astana, the squad may have to find a new manager and deal with the sticky problem of Alexandre Vinokourov’s intended return to the squad after a two-year ban for blood doping. It’s unlikely he’ll be going to RadioShack.

“Now people want to know if Lance can win the Tour next year?” writes Bruyneel. “I don’t know. I think his comeback is already a big success. I’ve never expected that, after four years, he would end on the Tour podium. And he was there on the podium together with the best stage race rider of the world and the biggest talent…”

A compliment to Contador, even if he is not exactly named.

Unless Bruyneel talking about second-placed Andy Schleck, of course.

Related links
Vinokourov makes return to racing
RadioShack confirmed as Armstrong’s new backer

External link
Johan Bruyneel blog

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  • Brian Carlisle

    Isn`t it time for Cycling Weekly to drop its obsession with Armstrong and consequently Bruyneel. Armstong is a bully and lacking in grace. As for Bruyneel – well would you buy a second hand car from this man?
    Last week`s CW treated us to the delights of the paint work on Lance`s Treks – truly fascinating!! I suppose these pictures could be put in an album containing a variety of black cycling socks!!
    Please feed us something more relevant and interesting. Armstrong is not the only rider worth media attention. For example you could give us more in depth articles about the many exciting British and Irish riders and of course the leading Europeans.
    It is time for CW to stop fuelling the Armstrong fire.The new young riders ; established riders; and true greats like Coppi; Hinault;Anquetil; Merckx (of course), to name a few could add bulk, and quality, to CW

  • Sukhoi

    I am very much surprised by some reactions but quickly realized that there are many losers do prowl on the Internet and trying to be preaching rubbish!!! I admire the managerial skills of JB and anything said is less about the great LA. BTW guys, Alberto Contador is no holy cow! I remember very well he told LA that he wouldn’t attack him in the Alp mountains but he didn’t keep his promise but on the other hand LA made the gentlemen’s promise by saying that he would race for the Team’s victory than risking everything on his personal ambitions.

    AC to me sounded exactly like that whiner Casey Stoner (both AC and Stoner have made similar comment during 2007/08 MotoGP championships – I don’t respect him, lost respect for him etc), ultimately he ended up as a big fool in front of the great Valentino Rossi. I am sure it would the AC’s turn in 2010 Le Tour de France. Lastly, champions are born every year but greats like LA, Rossi, Woods etc are born rare 🙂

  • krinkle

    I just read JB’s “Taking the 9th”. In JB’s words: “I always knew that the race would decide who would be the leader of the team” AND “My main concern was winning the Tour de France – whether it be with Alberto, Lance, Levi or Andreas.” I believe these just prove that AC never had his full support as team leader of Astana. That naming and reassuring AC were just lip service so that he will not leave. At the very least, AC has earned the team leadership and deserved the full support of the whole Astana team, from JB down to ALL of its riders the way LA had during his 7-year stint as tdf winner.
    Further, I did not hear any disparaging words from AC towards JB during the whole of the 2009 tdf and after. I can only hope that future pupils of JB will be treated with more RESPECT than was accorded AC. Good luck to him at Team Radioshack.

  • Cathy Kershner

    This years TDF proved many things. It is hard for me to believe that Bruneel would ruin his career as possibly on of the best team managers in the business by taking on a has been and thinking there would be a future in that. I applaud Lance and all his efforts for cancer. It is a disease that ravishes families around the world. However he is ravishing his efforts by his ill statements and unsportsman like conduct. As if he could ever beat Contador. Give me a break! I am disappointed to say the least in both Bruneel and Armstrong. Contador will be my pick for future tours regardless of the team he is on. That he won, held his head high in the midst of team jealousy, and didn’t complain makes him a champion beyond the podium. We love you Alberto… Cheering for you up those mountains baby! Nice job womping on Lance. He an Levi are such whiners. Get over guys…. There is someone out there better than you. And Johann… Green with envy will be your face when our boy Alberto beats you time and again…. All because you had your head so far up someone’s rear…. Thank you for the deluxe illustration of what not to do as a professional. Shame on you and Lance…

  • Martin S

    Agree with all the above.

    Shame on Bruyneel and Armstrong for badmouthing a team mate in the first place, especially one that was only doing what Lance was really trying to do, i.e. win.

    All the way through the tour it was obvious that Lance was really frustrated at not being in pole position then tried to cover it up either with fake bonhomie for the cameras or with completely groundless complaints about Contador’s tactics. The best they could have done following the Tour is remain silent, but to try and go back on it publicly displays how little they think of fans and their intelligence.

    If I were Contador I’d stay as far away from Armstrong, Buyneel and Astana (who’d want to be in the same team as Vino now?) and concentrate on beating Armstrong whenever they’re in the same race.

  • Guy

    Very interesting series of comments.

    Perhaps the maxim that all bullies reveal themselves to be cowards in the end remains truer than ever in this instance.

  • kyle

    Agreed with both comments above. LA’s ungracious insults throughout the Tour were bad enough, but I was honestly stunned reading JB’s. A total lack of class and professionalism. A great disappointment, and I’ll never look at either the same.

    Also interesting to note that yesterday JB was asked by someone on Twitter if the story about AC being left without a car to transport him to the Annecy time trial was true (as reported by El Pais, he had to call his brother at the last minute because LA used the car for family and Radio Shack staff). JB refused to answer the question, merely telling the person to “stop wasting their time” by asking. Clearly if the story were untrue it would be staunchly denied, by both LA and JB.

    Suffice it to say Twitter has not done either any favors in terms of public perception.

  • Johann Climacus

    Yeah, this just shows how little substance this man has. There is no real respect or contrition.

    We saw similar backtracking from armstrong when his comments about Sastre came to light. As soon as it became apparent that people disapproved of his bitchy teenage comments, (and that any resultant strained loyalties could be bad news for his race strategy) he decided to set the PR machine in motion and ‘apologise’.

    (Incidentally, it was hilarious watching the TdF coverage – Liggett mentioned at every conceivable opportunity just how much Armstrong ‘respects’ Sastre, and how armstrong considers Sastre ‘a real threat’ etc. etc. He just couldn’t stop!)

    Anyway guys, if you’re going to be a badmouthing bully, at least have the courage to stick to your guns and show people who you really are.

  • Lilly

    A little too late and a little too obvious. Damage done, it seems. Can’t take back twitter. I am sure it confirmed everything Contador believed about Bruyneel and then some. Bruyneel invested foolishly in his past and not wisely in his future.

  • John from St. Louis

    After this year, I honestly don’t care what Bruyneel has to say ever again. From a management/corporate point of view, compare the status of Team Astana as they were winning the Vuelta last year to what they’ll have left as an organization this year.
    Someone on twitter suggested a quote to Bruyneel that was aimed at Alberto. Just for the record, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt” is a quote by Abraham Lincoln, who was the leader when America split in two and fought the Civil War, and he brought us all together again.