Spain's Alberto Contador, who Sunday won the Italian Giro, has all the attributes to be as great a rider as legend Lance Armstrong, according to Astana cycling team boss Johan Bruyneel.
"When climbing I have seen him do things that only Armstrong knows how to do," the Belgian Bruyneel told the Gazzetta dello Sport. "Alberto has the mentality of a champion and an extraordinary confidence in himself. We don't yet know his limits."
The Spaniard has long held up the American Armstrong - seven-times winner of the Tour de France - as a role-model, adopting his technique in the mountains, his suppleness and his capacity to keep a cool head under pressure.
Good downhill, excellent on the flat, even if he hasn't reached the level of Armstrong in this area, Contador possesses everything for the big tour. Plus, the perfectionism, the attention to detail that is lacking in many riders, particularly before a race.
"At the moment he is the best rider in the world," Bruyneel added.
Born on December 6, 1982, in Madrid, Contador is considered to be a climbing specialist.
In 2004 a crash in the Tour of Asturias stage race put him in hospital, where doctors discovered he was about to suffer a brain haemorrhage. After a life-saving operation, he returned to training six months later and soon began fulfilling the promise first shown by his under-23 national time trial crown, when he was still only 19 years old.
In 2006 after stage wins in the Tour of Romandy and a stage in the Tour of Switzerland, his entire team was evicted from the Tour de France after five of their riders were implicated in a drug scandal.
Contador was later cleared of any involvement by a Spanish court. He then bounced back from that in 2007 when he won the Tour de France with team Discovery Channel, Armstrong's former team.
© AFP 2008