Former Tour de France winner Pedro Delgado has criticised Astana for collaborating in the stage three echelon that saw Lance Armstrong gain 41 seconds on team-mate Alberto Contador.
"It’s one thing for Armstrong to be in the front group - that was where he should have been, and all credit to him,” Delgado told Cycling Weekly. "But at the same time, Astana working on the front like that risks dividing the squad, and for minimal gains."
"All Armstrong got was about 10 seconds more than he would have if he sat back and let Columbia-HTC do all the work. And nobody could have criticised him."
Although Contador has remained tight-lipped on the subject, Delgado believes the divisions in the Astana squad now have the potential to widen much further following the decision to collaborate with Columbia-HTC. "What can Armstrong say now if Contador attacks and drops him on the climb to Andorra? Nothing at all."
"And if Contador drops him on the Tourmalet, the gaps could be really big. Three or four minutes. In my opinion, strategicaly Armstrong’s taken a small advantage, but the team could pay a big price later."
Amongst the Spanish media, the Armstrong and Astana manoeuvre was not seen favourably either. "It’s war in Astana" was the headline on leading sports daily MARCA's website on Tuesday.
TOUR DE FRANCE 2009 LINKS
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Stage four: Astana on top but Armstrong misses yellow by hundredths of a second
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Stage three: Cavendish wins second stage as Armstrong distances Contador
Stage two: Cavendish takes first sprint
Stage one: Cancellara wins opening time trial
LATEST TOUR NEWS
Tour de France 2009 News Index>>
Delgado criticises Astana for Armstrong manoeuvre
Armstrong: Gaining time on Contador was not the objective
Stage three analysis: Why the bunch split and who gained the most
The Feed Zone: Monday, July 6
Analysis: Why Columbia must expect to do the bulk of the chasing
Stage three: David Brailsford interview
Stage two: Mark Cavendish on the Tour
Stage one: Jonathan Vaughters on Bradley Wiggins' chances
TOUR DE FRANCE 2009 PHOTOS
Stage three photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage two photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage one photo gallery by Andy Jones
Stage one photo gallery by Graham Watson
Team presentation by Andy Jones
Team presentation by Graham Watson
Tour de France 2009 - the hub
Tour de France 2009: Who's riding
Tour de France 2009: Team guide
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Tour de France 2009 on TV: Eurosport and ITV4 schedules
Big names missing from 2009 Tour de France
Tour de France anti-doping measures explained
Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Cavendish
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