The Reuters global sports blog
Quiet man Contador makes his point to Bruyneel
Alberto Contador reminds me of Rafael Nadal. He speaks softly, he is very polite, some would say he is a kind lad. He is all those things, and, just like Nadal, once he gets on his turf, he is all but a killer.
Contador said before starting Paris-Nice, a race featuring several Tour de France contenders, that he was not here to make his point within the Astana team.
He knows that his leadership has been threatened by the arrival of Lance Armstrong, who happens to be one of Johan Bruyneel’s best friends. And Bruyneel is the one calling the shots at Astana.
Bruyneel said, however, that the best rider would lead the squad on the Tour. Well, here’s a flash: the best is Contador, there’s no doubt about it. What he did on Sunday’s opening time trial on Paris-Nice was simply stunning.
The Spaniard is a natural climber, the best in the world. And on a totally flat course, over 9.3 km, he beat double pursuit Olympic champion Bradley Wiggins by 7 seconds. Quite huge for a rider who’s not supposed to be a time trial specialist.
Contador said this was not a message to Armstrong or anybody else. Well, it may not have been a message, but everybody got it all the same.
And the Tour de France opening time trial in Monaco (15 km) will be quite hilly. Tailor-made for Contador.
If what should happen happens in Monaco, Bruyneel will be forced to give Contador the leadership or it will be a huge mess at Astana.
PHOTO: Astana’s team rider Alberto Contador of Spain walks past people dressed as medieval period before the start of the second stage of Paris-Nice cycling race in Saint Brisson sur Loire March 9, 2009. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard