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Ice cool Contador trains sights on Armstrong

March 18, 2010

CYCLING-TOUR/It looks like Alberto Contador has learned from the master himself, with the Spaniard apparently intent on unsettling the seven-times Tour de France champion with his recent change of schedule.

Contador announced on Tuesday he was re-shuffling his race calendar following a commanding victory on Paris-Nice. Instead of taking part in the Tour of Catalonia, the defending Tour champion will travel to Corsica for the two-day Criterium International, where he will square up with Armstrong, who had decided to go to Corsica instead of Catalonia after Contador first announced he would race in Spain!

Has Contador decided it is time for payback already?

Last year, his then Astana team mate Armstrong hit out at him after he cracked in the penultimate stage of Paris-Nice (“Amazing talent but still a lot to learn,” the American wrote on Twitter).

He did not stop there.

“Alberto did not follow team orders,” he said after Contador attacked in the climb to Arcalis during the 2009 Tour. “Hey Pistolero, there’s no ‘I’ in ‘team’,” he also wrote after finishing third in the Tour.

A soft spoken character, Contador swears he wants to stay out of the mind games, as he re-stated during his final Paris-Nice press conference, having only nice things to say about Armstrong’s RadioShack team.

Yet, the boy from Pinto is striking back, going to challenge LA in Corsica — although his change of schedule makes sense from a sporting point of view.

The route of the race suits him better and he is feeling extremely confident after winning Paris-Nice and the Tour of Algarve earlier this year, while Armstrong struggled at the Tour Down Under and the Tour of Murcia.

But he will have absolutely no room for error against Armstrong, leader of a team that could harm Contador’s Astana on the Tour, and not the kind of man to easily forget.

PHOTO: Alberto Contador of Spain (L) and then teammate Lance Armstrong of the U.S. stand on the podium at the end of the Tour de France, July 26, 2009. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

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