In an interview with the Spanish newspaper ?AS?, Vuelta winner Alberto Contador has warned that team-life with Lance Armstrong in 2009 – if it happens – could be difficult. And in the same interview Contador also hints that team-mate Levi Leipheimer may have ridden in his own interests during the Spanish race.
During the interview, Contador was asked whether Leipheimer, who finished the Tour of Spain 46 seconds behind the Spaniard, worked for himself or for Contador.
?I?ll only say it?s not normal that somebody who?s worked for you finishes the race less than a minute down,? Contador argued.
?If the final time trial [won by Leipheimer] had been 20 kilometres longer, I don?t know what would have happened.?
When it was pointed out that Leipheimer did work for Contador on the Angliru, the Spaniard responded: ?yes, but only a little, before [rival Alejandro] Valverde (Caisse d?Epargne) attacked and he got dropped.
?At Fuentes de Invierno [the next summit finish, where Contador and Leipheimer followed rival Ezequiel Mosquera (Xacobeo-Galicia) up the road], it was complicated.?
?If I?d been there alone with Ezequiel I?d have let him win, but it was important to get the time bonus.?
Contador and Leipheimer completed the Vuelta in exactly the same time, but Contador?s time bonuses clinched him the overall win.
Then asked about Armstrong?s comeback, Contador said he?d been pleased to hear the news, and that he was waiting for more details from the Texan.
However, in the interview he did not seem overly optimistic about the prospects fo co-leading Astana with the Texan – one possibility that is definitely amongst Armstrong?s options – in 2009.
?It would be difficult to share a team with him,? Contador says in the interview.
?I?ve earned the right to be a leader, without having to work for it. And if Armstrong was there, the team might have to work in his favour, and that might prejudice me.?
Asked if he will quit Astana if Armstrong signed, Contador refused to give a straight answer, saying ?I won?t sacrifice my palmares. My intention is to stay with the team until 2010, which is when my contract ends, although I?ve received a big number of offers from other squads.?
Contador’s observations means Lance Armstrong’s comeback strategy will be even more closely studied than before. The consequences for the Spaniard will be unpredictable, to say the least.
Lance Armstrong will be announcing details of his intended comeback to professional cycling tomorrow (Wednesday). We will be covering the announcement in full on www.cyclingweekly.com
|TOUR OF SPAIN 2008|
Stage 21: Contador wins 2008 Tour of Spain
Stage 20: Contador sets up overall win
Stage 19: Arroyo denies sprinters with seconds to spare
Stage 18: Roche loses stage by inches
Stage 17: Weylandt takes Quick Step’s fifth stage
Stage 16: Boonen wins second sprint
Stage 15: Garcia Dapena takes solo win
Stage 14: Contador takes second mountain-top stage win
Stage 13: Contador wins on Angliru to take lead
Stage 12: Bettini wins, Valverde out of contention
Stage 11: Freire wins stage
Stage 10: Hinault wins, Martinez retains lead
Stage nine: Van Avermaet takes stage, Martinez new leader
Stage eight: Moncoutie triumphs in Vuelta’s second Pyrenean stage
Stage seven: Ballan takes surprise win in mountains
Stage six: Bettini wins, Chavanel leads
Stage five: time trial win for Leipheimer
Stage four: Bennati takes crash-strewn stage
Stage three: Boonen bounces back
Stage two: Valverde powers into lead
Stage one: Liquigas are surprise winners
Contador becomes quickest to complete Grand Tour set
Sastre slams Riis for lack of support
Tour of Spain rest day review 1
Tour of Spain on Eurosport (schedule)
Behind the scenes at the Tour of Spain
Tour of Spain – still a week too long?
Tour of Spain kicks off this weekend