Try to comprehend in your mind, if you can, the following phrases: Lance Armstrong unclear, Lance Armstrong lost, Armstrong confused. Lance Armstrong just having a hard time making up his mind.
Who could imagine that reality? Think about cancer survivor, 7 time Tour de France winner, billion dollar fund raiser, author and motivational speaker and then attempt — yes, make your absolute best effort — to attach the words lost or indecisive to Lance Armstrong. Impossible. Not in forever.
And yet that is where brilliant rider and clueless planner Alberto Contador finds himself. In limbo, still under contract to Astana, a shell of a team, gutted by departing manager Johan Bruyneel, a team without a director sportif, a team without a plan barely hanging onto its Pro Tour license.
There Alberto sits, day after day, month after month, contemplating, dithering, doing the Hamlet-bicycle thing — “to depart or not to depart, that is the question.” Semantics tell the story, the difference between the iron will and ambition of Armstrong and a nice Spanish lad with incredible skill but no idea where to go. It’s not about the bike, it’s about the brain.
Examine the Language of Contador: ” I need a team,” ” we are awaiting the UCI’s decision” (about Astana’s license) and “we can’t do much until we know if Alberto can leave or not. We have been waiting a long time.” The attitude is helplessness, confusion, letting fate dictate, throwing up your hands and saying, someone please figure out my life. Contador is not a Carpe Diem kinda guy.
In the same time frame, Lance and Johan Bruyneel have put together a new team, lined up sponsors, stripped Astana of quality riders and built an entire Tour-ready machine to crush all rivals. Armstrong is probably in the wind tunnel right now. He’s haranguing Trek about making his time trial bike even faster. He’s insisting that Nike cut another 10 grams of weight off his cycling shoes. He’s examining micro-fiber samples to see which one wicks better. He’s reviewing photos for the cover of his next book. He’s taking care of business, folks.
This is how you win 7 tours versus how you win two because gosh, you were really good but didn’t have a clue off the bike. Every day that Alberto Contador lays in bed lost raises the odds that Lance Armstrong and Andy Schleck will beat him in the Tour. The Spanish rider may become the first tour winner to essentially knock himself off the podium 9 months before the race begins.
Alberto is waiting for someone, anyone to give him an out. He is not the master of his own domain. That he leaves up to Fran — no, not some house-cleaner in Des Moines — Fran, his brother. You can see the problem right there. Never ask a Fran about anything except bathroom cleaners.
And sadly the answer to this cycling conundrum is clear to anyone who has followed pro cycling for 5, maybe six minutes. Break contract with crazy Kazak team that can’t pay bills and brought back drug pariah Vinokourov. Sign with powerful Caisse D’Epargne team loaded with Spanish riders that’s likely to lose their best tour rider, Alejandro Valverde, to doping suspension. Double duh. Fran, put two and two together, fetch brother, tell news.
When will this happen? No prediction on that but one thing is obvious: Armstrong will be ready. Contador, that’s a big question mark.