The Reuters global sports blog
The Tour de France is still more than eight months from now, but the much-awaited duel between Alberto Contador and his illustrious challenger Lance Armstrong has already begun.
The Spanish champion and the American veteran, third this year after an impressive comeback following 3-1/2 years in retirement, both attended the 2010 route presentation in Paris on Wednesday.
Seated in the second row of the Palais des Congres, they were only separated by Luxembourg’s Andy Schleck, one of the riders hoping to settle the dispute with victory on the Champs Elysees on July 25.
Contador and Armstrong shook hands on Wednesday, but the tension between the two was already palpable.
The Spaniard, who has won every Grand Tour he has raced since claiming his first Tour de France in 2007, will be the hot favourite when next year’s event kicks off in Rotterdam.
He is the best climber, and Fabian Cancellara — not an overall contender — looks like the only man able to beat him in a time trial.
With four stages in the Pyrenees and a total of 23 passes, it is hard to imagine that Armstrong can compete.
But the Texan is 38 years old and has the experience that goes along with it.
While Contador is still unsure about his future — Astana ? Garmin ? Quick Step ? — former Astana man Armstrong has already set up his new team, bringing Levi Leipheimer and probably Andreas Kloeden to RadioShack.
The American outfit, given a Pro-Tour Licence on Friday, will no doubt be strong.
Contador still does not know who will be his lieutenants next season. If he stays at Astana, he will be able to rely on Alexander Vinokourov, but who else? He wants Haimar Zubeldia to stay but the Spaniard is willing to join Armstrong.
Armstrong is ready to start preparing for the 2010 Tour, Contador is not.
Before the race enters the mountains, the first week will be potentially treacherous. Armstrong has the experience to deal with it, while Contador sometimes has problems holding his nerve. Not good when you are set to face strong crosswinds and nasty cobblestones in Northern France.
Basically, Armstrong has until July 6 — the Tour third stage with 13 km of cobbled sections — to unsettle Contador. After that, it could be too late.
PHOTO: From L to R : Champion cyclists Lance Armstrong of the U.S., Andy Schleck of Luxembourg and Alberto Contador of Spain attend a news conference in Paris October 14, 2009 to announce the itinerary of the 2010 Tour de France. REUTERS/Jacky Naegelen
One hundred years after first featuring on the Tour map, the Pyrenees could be the scene of a classic battle between Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong.
Tour de France organisers unveiled the route for next year’s race here in Paris on Wednesday, with four stages, including a gruelling 16th stage with four daunting climbs, to be held in the mountains that form the border between France and Spain.
from The Great Debate UK:
- Professor Simon Chadwick, Director, Centre for the International Business of Sport, Coventry, UK. The opinions expressed are his own. -
This summer’s Tour de France was truly historic: the race finished without anyone having returned a positive dope test. Monumental! In a sport seemingly beset with drug problems, professional cycling appeared to have turned the corner, started over, seen the error of its ways, cleaned up its act etc.
Here is how the day is panning out (French time, new items now at top):
There we are! Contador set to win his second Tour de France. Andy Schleck is second.
Armstrong’s comeback is a success with what looks like a wonderful podium finish.
Alberto Contador made his break as the Tour de France entered the Alps on Sunday and he may well have decided the race in his favour.
Contador’s thrilling escape asked a question Lance Armstrong could not answer and earned the Spaniard the yellow jersey, with a lead of more than a minute and a half over Armstrong. That’s not decisive, but it is now hard to see the Texan coming back and taking victory.
Tarbes-Lourdes airport, Sunday, around 6pm.
Lance Armstrong is greeted by massive cheers as he enters the airport before boarding the plane taking the Tour de France riders to Limoges for their first rest day.
Alberto Contador signs a few autographs. Both riders did not exchange a look, let alone a word, in the bus that was taking them to the airport.
Enough with the nagging mind games: that’s basically what Alberto Contador told Lance Armstrong when he moved ahead of the American with a brutal attack in the final ascent of the Tour de France seventh stage.
Since the Tour started, and even long before the peloton got to Monaco for the Grand Depart, Armstrong has been trying to unsettle Contador.
Alberto Contador made a point to Lance Armstrong and the rest of the Astana team with a thrilling break at the end of the seventh stage of the Tour de France on Friday.
it wasn’t quite enough to give him the yellow jersey — that honour went to Italy’s Rinaldo Nocentini – but it took him up to second place, three seconds ahead of Armstrong in the General Classification.
Lance Armstrong was agonisingly close to taking the yellow jersey for first time since his last Tour de France triumph in 2005.
Here’s how Julien Pretot, a member of our reporting team on the Tour, saw the 39-km team time trial in Montpellier as it happened.