In the ugly war of words between Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador after the 2009 Tour de France, Armstrong famously tweeted “There’s no I in team, pistelero.”
Now that Armstrong’s Radio Shack team has signed yet another Astana rider, Andreas Kloden, the question becomes, “what team, pistelero?”
Kloden is, by our rough count, the eighth rider that Radio Shack director Johan Bruyneel (and former Astana boss) has swiped from his old squad. The best riders from Astana — Levi Leipheimer, Haimar Zubeldia, Sergio Paulinho, Chechu Rubiera, Janez Brajkovič, Gregory Rast, Thomas Vaikus and Kloden — ride for Lance. There’s also a high probability that American Chris Horner will leave the Kazak team for the Shack.
To use a classic cycling expression, Contador is now “isolated” while Armstrong is surrounded by team-mates. This is how you win (and lose) the 2010 Tour de France. Imagine the scene — say Alpe d’Huez — Armstrong hits the murderous climb with Leipheimer and Kloden (both TDF podium finishers) driving the pace for him. Contador looks around for help and has nobody except maybe his brother Fran giving him a seat push.
The Spanish rider will be the first champion to lose his title by “dithering.” Twisted Spoke calls on cycling historians to find another tour winner so lost. Johan Bruyneel has dismantled the team of Lance’s biggest rival piece by piece. A novel strategy for winning the tour — Next year Bruyneel will take apart the Saxo bank team of Andy Schleck.
This is what competitors forget about Lance Armstrong, over and over again. He’s got a hundred ways to crush you. He’s going to out-train and out-think you. He’s going to have better bikes, stronger team-mates, a smarter director, nastier body guards, tastier pasta, cooler jersey fabric, lighter cycling shoes, softer hotel pillows — the list goes on forever.
The score now reads: Armstrong eight and Contador zero and Lance isn’t done yet. Tweet that!