Alberto Contador, who won the Tour of Spain on Sunday, hinted that he may quit the Astana team if it takes on Lance Armstrong, who has announced he is coming out of retirement.
“It would be quite complicated,” Contador told sports newspaper AS. “I think I’ve earned the right to be the leader of a team without having to fight for it and, with Armstrong, there could be difficult situations in which the team would put him first and that would harm me.”
Astana boss Johan Bruyneel, who managed Armstrong as director of the US Postal and Discovery Channel teams, said recently that he would “not allow” the American to join another team. Armstrong is due to give a press conference on Wednesday, at which he is to announce his plans.
“I will base my decision on what he says,” Contador said. “I intend to stay because I am under contract until 2010, but I have received a good many offers from other teams. Bruyneel believes I can deliver results, but it can’t be denied that he made his name because of his ties to Armstrong.”
His comments contrast with those he made immediately after Armstrong’s announcement. “I would welcome (Armstrong) into the team with open arms because a cyclist like him would fit in anywhere,” Contador said on 10 September. “I have always had the highest regard for him and would be delighted to be in the same team as him.”
Contador won the Tour of Spain on Sunday to add his victories in the 2007 Tour de France winner and this year’s Giro d’Italia. He is now only the fifth rider in history (and the first Spaniard) to win all three of cycling’s three-week tours.
The 37-year-old Armstrong rocked the world of cycling earlier this month by confirming that he was planning a comeback with a view to winning a record eighth Tour de France next summer.
© AFP 2008