Contador is out on his own — literally

July 23, 2009

Alberto Contador is closing in on Tour de France victory having won the 18th stage on Thursday, a time trial in Annecy.

If he succeeds, and I have no doubt he will, the Spaniard will owe it to nobody but himself.

Since the Tour started –- and even before –- Contador has felt like an outsider at Astana. Team manager Johan Bruyneel is much closer to Lance Armstrong, who was gunning for an unprecedented eighth victory in the world’s greatest race.

It all started when Armstrong announced his return to competitive cycling last September. Two months later, the Astana riders were in a training camp in Tenerife with Armstrong, Bruyneel and Contador holding a press conference.

After that, I spoke to Bruyneel and he said he had been a bit bored since the American retired after his record seventh win on the Tour in 2005. Had Contador’s 2007 Tour victory not really thrilled Bruyneel?

Since the Tour started, Armstrong’s presence has failed to get to Contador, who has snatched every opportunity to prove his worth.

He was the favourite in the opening time trial (2nd behind Cancellara), he beat all the Tour hopefuls in Arcalis and won the stage in Verbier. On Wednesday, he did not need anyone’s help to resist the Schleck brother’s relentless attacks.

Behaving like the race boss, he did not work during the descent from the Col de la Colombiere, awarding one of the Schlecks the stage win in compensation.

Far behind was Armstrong, who was the perfect team mate on the day –- until he criticised Contador again for attacking in the final climb on Wednesday.

PHOTO: Astana rider Alberto Contador of Spain wears the leader’s yellow jersey on the podium after the 17th stage of the 96th Tour de France cycling race between Bourg Saint Maurice and Le Grand Bornand, July 22, 2009. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard


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thank you for your honesty. I wish more reporters would be less fans and show a little objectivity. Not only did Contador have to beat his other rivals but he had do deal immense political backstabbing from Armstrong and Bruyneel who did everything in their power to undermine his ability. It was agreed upon that Alberto was team leader and Johan did not let him out of his contract (and actually reassured him that he was the leader) despite several earnest requests since Armstrong announced his return. Armstrong then received praise for attacking Contador in a insignificant stage the opening week whild Contador has been attacked by armstrongs team alliances adn the ignorant media for actually not intentionally waiting and loosing to Armstrong in the difficult stages. Remove the Team TT and Armstrong isn’t even in the top 10. 15th place in the final tt…enough said
from Austin Tx

Posted by jen | Report as abusive

Three and half years removed from top-flite racing, a broken collarbone 3 months prior to the TDF, and a sponsor who didn’t pay the team for over two months and Oh, one more thing, he’s 38 and yest L.A. will have a podium finish. Not too shabby!

With Bruyneel, the brains behind be Contador’s victories while Lance was retired, soon to back aboard Armstrong’s new Radio Shack Team, Contador will finally have the Astana Team all to himself, but he will loose to Let the fireworks begin

Posted by TOM | Report as abusive

hmmmm… I dont think Contador would have Astana for himelf given that Vinokhourov will be back in Astana as soon as the TDF ends. And about Bruyneel being th ebrain behind Contador’s victories, you gotta be kidding, Bruyneel may have helped Contador back in 2007 but this year he has done the littlest to help Contador and it only after realizing that it is Contador and not Armstrong who is in better shape… now I don’t criticize Bruyneel because it’s Armstrong who would give him a job next year and not Contador who will pro’lly ride in a team owned and sponsored by Fernando Alonzo, nor Astana who will have Kazakh hero Alexander Vinokhourov as indisputable leader, so what Bruyneel is doing is just protecting next years job besides his friend LA.

Posted by bam | Report as abusive

Seriously I think both Lance and Bruyneel new Contador was the strongest in the long run this year. However by Lance returning and looking great and then everybody keeping the tension going in the press between Lance and Alberto the Team garnered itself a lot of attention. And then you get Cantador doing some immature moves on two climbs and you get yourself a lot more attention. It would have been great to have Lance win, but from PR stand point he couldn’t have done better.

Posted by jsfox | Report as abusive

It is Fernando Alonso, not Alonzo. Using Z wrong in names is typical from southamerican countrys wich sapin colonized once, so they have many Alonzos and shit, but the real name is Alonso, as in Spain is.

Posted by Adrian | Report as abusive

Contador is by far the best rider in the world. Even in his prime Armstrong wouldnt of been able to stay with Alberto up those mountain climbs. Sure Lance and Bruyneel can build a team for next year, but when it comes down to mano al mano on the climbs, Contador will street them again.

Posted by Sean | Report as abusive

Johan Bruyneel rode the team car behind Lance on the TT not with Contador.He has
been left out of the team.I am afraid they might lace his food with something.Show
no mercy on mont ventoux.

Posted by JORGE | Report as abusive

As biased as the press is towards teh great American Hero, Lance Armstrong… The European press is falling all over themselves to highlight Alberto’s dominance, without illustrating the true colors of his behaviors that are unsportsmanlike in the peloton. Alberto attacked his own teammates twice, on Arcalis and Col de la Colombiere. Arguably, he broke team protocol and direction, and put his own vitory at risk by breaking from the team. Lance and Johann have been transparent with their ambitions this year. Alberto? Hardly. He says he’s the strongest rider, he demands Lance ride for him (which he does), and he attacks Lance and Andreas at times that were unnecessary. From my perspective, he lacks the respect for the team and the sport that makes for a great rider.

Teams win the Tour de France, not individuals. Alberto only cares about himself, and not the team that got him there. Even Lance worked for Big George Hincapie back in the day. He showed a certain level of respect and deference to his compatriots.

Good luck in 2010 Alberto. The Shack is Back.

Posted by TC Baer | Report as abusive

Baer is a good example of twitter`s clan. If Contador is the leader of the team, he can attack always when he considered. His teammates are his supporters and is their roles. The same is Evans in Lotto, Andy in CSC or Cavendish in Columbia. The only problem is the business between Lance and Johan and the problem for marketing to them who is Contador. And in case he attack Lance or Kloden, obviusly he attacking the rest too. And thank to his attacks Astana will win the Tour. Lance, Kloden or Levy would lost to Andy Schleck and maybe Wiggins.

Alberto is a trully champion in mountain an time trial. He only need no to improve in twitter because criticise his teammates… This is sportmanship that you talk

Posted by Dupont | Report as abusive

No way Alberto beats Armstrong in his prime. Contador right now and Lance in his prime are both insanely strong riders. Nobody’s put Contador under pressure this tour. And it certainly seems like there’s been a lot for him to deal with. Not only did Lance, the greatest tour rider of all time, join his team, I don’t think Bruyneel even told Contador when it happened; if I remember correctly he learned via TV or something.

That being said, I think he’s really made some immature and stupid moves when attacking his teammates. The last one probably cost Kloden a top 3 finish. I get that he feels a need to prove himself, but he doesn’t need to do it at the expense of the guys slaving for him. While Lance isn’t strong enough to beat Contador overall, he could easily snag 2nd. But instead he’s being the team player. Same with Kloden. And Contador responds by attacking and dropping Kloden? I just hope Lance can reach a strong enough level of fitness to finish off Contador next year.

Posted by Striker | Report as abusive

Contador’s clearly the strongest individual rider at the moment, but it will be interesting to see if anyone wants to ride with him after this TDF. My guess is the strong riders on Astana are following Lance to Radio Shack or heading to other teams and Contador is going to find himself at the end of a weak team in 2010. Perhaps Caisse D’Epargne will snatch him up. If not, he’s going to be an isolated man when he returns to defend his title next season.

Posted by Sir Velo | Report as abusive

Agree w/ Striker

Alberto disgraced himself and the Peleton with his antics involving the Schleck brothers on the slopes of La Grand Bornand. Kloeden should be fuming. Armstrong was already playing the consummate teammate when Alberto spit in his face and began riding for team Saxobank… Armstrong would never have disrespected his teammates like that – just ask Hincapie, Heras, Levi, Floyd, or Yuroslav – those guys would ride through a wall for Lance because Lance treated them with respect and etiquette befitting professional cyclists.

Poor form for Contador. He should be standing on the top of the podium Sunday with Kloeden #2 and Lance #3. Only way he can redeem himself is to work for Kloeden and Lance up Ventoux. Period. If this doesnt happen it would be good to see Lance or Kloeden make a statement on Saturday up Ventoux on their own or together with Popovich…

And before anyone begins claiming Contador could beat Lance in his prime – remember Lance toyed with the greatest climber of all time, Marco Pantani, up Ventoux as well as Jan Ullrich… who has Contador beat while in their prime?

Case closed.

Can’t wait to see Lance return to top form next year. Godspeed.

Posted by Dave | Report as abusive

Contador is an amazing rider (if he doesn’t fail his doping tests). The guy is also very selfish. He had almost an unassailable lead, yet he tried to leave his own teammate behind two stages ago.

Posted by Ron | Report as abusive

It is possible — but not sure — that Contador went against Bruyneel’s order when he attacked and dropped Kloeden.
But since when the guy with the yellow jersey does have to worry about his domestiques ?

Posted by julien | Report as abusive

I have to say that I agree with a lot of what is being said about the “bad form” that Contadors has shown with is behavior. Face it you either love LA or you don’t. If you don’t then anything that any other rider does is OK, but the truth is like him or not LA was always a great team member. Also the increase in audience and TV views for this years TDF is up, due weather you like it or not to LA being back. I don’t mind that LA did not win this year, he did have the 3 weeks off with an injury before the Tour began, but if you are going to win at least be nice about it. I do agree that it will something to see how or what kind of team Contador can put together next year. You need to make sure that you don’t burn your bridges with your team mates in any TDF. Only 1 person wins but it is a “TEAM” sport, and there is no I in Team.

Posted by Susan | Report as abusive

I am not sure about LAs respect for others. Livingston worked hard for LA and then went to T-Mobile. After that he was declared a traitor, but Livingston needed to do go for financial reasons

Posted by john | Report as abusive