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."
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?
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