What did Lance Armstrong buy himself for Christmas? An Alberto Contador punching bag.
Maybe it was one of those end of year moves — start 2010 fresh, purge the last Pistelero disses.
In an interview with Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf and the Belgian Nieuwsblad, the Texan dumped all over the “humble and welcoming boy” — as Alberto’s new Astana Manager Giuseppe Martinelli once called him.
According to Lance, the Spaniard “is surrounded by yes-men’ and acts like “the king of Spain.” Things are getting vicious and cartoony at the same time. Hopefully Lance sent a tweet alert to Spain’s president Rodriguez Zapatero — the monarchy is back in Madrid and his name is Alberto.
The “Alberto complex”, a new psychiatric term we’re giving to Armstrong for usage, was discussed at great length. “If you have just won the Tour for the second time and you are the king of Spain, it is normal that all stories are all right. His career has barely begun.”
Armstrong then moved to his most pointed criticism, saying Alberto’s monster ego had caused the exodus of all his teammates. Sometimes also called the Reverse Pied Piper Effect. “Eight of the nine riders who rode the Tour, have gone away. To another team,’ said Lance. “Even his roommate.” Thank God he still has Brother Fran.
Would this have happened to Armstrong? No way, no now, not never. “I would have long since looked in the mirror. I would never let that happen. Never. If I had to change myself to prevent it, then I would do that. If they needed more money, I would do it. I would do anything for them.” Wow, lot of juicy material there — mirror, money, transformation. Okay, next smack-down.
“But Contador is totally different from me. It is very difficult,” said Armstrong. “He knows no better. He is a Spanish guy who is always in the same pueblo (district) resident. He has his friends, family, the street where he grew up, his country, his people. A great athlete like him must employ individuals who support him and have patience with him. But he is surrounded by yes-men.”
Alright, let’s tally Alberto’s flaws: egotistical, delusions of grandeur (King of Spain), dumb, small-town bumpkin, deaf and surrounded by yes-men (si-hombres in Spanish) and engaged in the overthrow of a democratic government (King of Spain thing again.) And he can’t twitter worth crap — we threw that in because we know Lance forgot that one.
Is this the place for cycling theory? What the H-E-Double Toothpicks (that’s “hell” for you non-parents) is Lance Armstrong doing? Why are he and Johan Bruyneel still slamming Contador five months after the tour is over? At 38 years of age, is Lance working himself up in one last motivational angry froth to give himself the training fuel he needs?
Armstrong was shocked to discover in the ’09 Tour de France that his month of mind games had no effect on Contador. He “ain’t easy to destabilize” was the realization. Perhaps Armstrong hopes a mega dose, 12 months off needling, psychological warfare and inflammatory tweets will do the trick. Or perhaps the answer is he simply doesn’t give a crap what the media thinks of all this Alberto bashing.
He wasn’t finished either. Once Lance had verbally slapped the Spanish rider, he took on the Spanish media for their slanted coverage, lack of professionalism and heavy support of the King of Spain. “So many dirty things, unbelievable. Complete bullshit, pieces of slime, fat lies,” said Armstrong.
“I understand that the Spanish media stands up for their hero, but it was so untrue what was printed. Come on, at the end of the day as a journalist, you f**king do proclaim the truth.” These are the kind of quotes cycling writers dream of waking up to. Enough invective for five posts, a feature and the inevitable return fire from Spain. Who needs races?
But there is somebody feeling pretty hurt in all this name calling. Imagine how left out Andy Schleck must feel? He was second in last years’ tour, he’s a serious contender, he’s standing in Armstrong’s way and yet he doesn’t merit even one Lance Diss? Couldn’t Lance at least make fun of him for crashing into that toy car?
The Twisted Spoke take on the Alberto punching bag? Unwise move by Mr. Armstrong. Even Livestrong fans must be wondering why the character assassination keeps going. Worse, we fear Lance has made himself a target for the thousands of crazy, violent Pistelero fans that will line the mountain roads near the Spanish border in the 2010 Tour de France.
The final punch will come in the Pyrenees and it won’t be from Alberto Contador.