When Lance Armstrong announced his comeback to professional cycling and that he would join the Astana team, you could almost hear Alberto Contador‘s chin hit the floor.

At first, 2007 Tour de France winner Contador appeared less than happy to be sharing the Astana team with seven-time Tour de France winner Armstrong, but he has now told French sport paper L’Equipe that he is welcoming the Texan’s return to competition.

“He’s a great champion who knows how to sell the sport,” Contador told the paper. “His return brings with it a number of advantages, and not just the extent to which he will take the media spotlight off me.”

Contador also hinted that the team will rally behind whichever leader shows the best form during the 2009 Tour de France.

“I am going to concentrate on my race programme to get to the start in the best shape possible, but not with the obsession of being leader,” Contador said.

“It’s the terrain which will decide during an event. We’ll not assess our performances on the morning of July 4 to designate a leader.”

During the interview, Contador also expressed his admiration of Armstrong’s training regime and his huge determination.

“I can’t say it any simpler,” said Contador. “This guy is the best cyclist in the world.”

RELATED LINKS

Armstrong in Adelaide… and Astana kit

Armstrong to get elite security team for Tour Down Under

Armstrong to ride Tour of Ireland?

Lance Armstrong press conference transcript

Lance Armstrong: Exclusive interview

Armstrong trains with Contador for first time

Armstrong to ride 2009 Tour de France

Armstrong: still no drug-testing program

Armsrong visits Paris but doesn’t want to talk about Tour de France

Armstrong speaks to Cycle Sport

Armstrong vs Hincapie at Tour Down Under

Armstrong to meet Tour officials before deciding on participation

Armstrong still playing it cool over Tour

Armstrong says he could not have hoped for a different Tour

Contador to stay with Astana and Armstrong

Lance Armstrong’s Tour de France comeback in doubt

Armstrong to ride the 2009 Giro d’Italia

Armstrong rejects offer to re-test 1999 samples

Armstrong knew about six month rule

French offer Armstrong re-test of his 1999 Tour samples

Amrstrong hopes UCI show ‘common sense’ for Aussie return

Armstrong comeback in Tour Down Under faces possible delays

Watch Armstrong in Vegas ‘Cross race

Armstrong confirms Ventoux time trial for 2009?

Armstrong’s comeback starts in Australia

Wednesday Comment (September 24)

Contador says riding with Lance could be difficult

UCI president rubbishes Armstrong Tour buyout claims

Bruyneel talks up Armstrong’s chances

The Wednesday Comment, Armstrong Edition (September 10)

Tour de France: Lance can race in 2009

Contador: Lance could win eighth Tour

Lance confirms 2009 comeback

Armstrong: No smoke without fire?