Poor Contador. Lance looks at Alberto’s 4th place in Paris-Nice and calls his Spanish teammate “nervous.” Yes, the Contador who’s won the Tour and the Giro. Nothing like dumping on somebody playing for your side. Lance seems determined to get under Contador’s skin or should I say cranium. He’s messing with Alberto’s mind and you’d have to think, knowing Lance, that this is calculated. Lance wants another tour win and he figures he can’t beat Contador on talent so he’s going after what he percieves as the one weak point: mental strength. Which after seven tour wins kinda feels pathetic and mean-spirited and petty.
But lemme back up first and say Lance is the man, the greatest endurance athlete of our era. He’s also raised millions for cancer research and given hope to countless people. He deserves all the respect and acclaim he has world-wide. I’ve read both his books. He’s a true hero. But that said, undermining your team-mate like that is sad. Lance just can’t help himself. A scorpion only knows how to sting. He has always used every weapon to beat his opponents–even within Astana.
That “nervous” cheap shot was not something off the cuff after a few Lone Stars. He wasn’t dizzy from a 6 hour ride and having just given blood to the UCI vampires. No, he planned that remark and I’m sure he ran it by Bruyneel. It reminds me of what Bernard Hinault did to Greg Lemond–promising he’d help Greg win the Tour and then breaking his word and attacking every chance he had. I’m sure Lance will make the same claim Hinault did: I’m just making Contador stronger, pushing him, making him earn it. I’m helping the boy, can’t you see? It’s like the dad that dumps his kid in the forest 20 miles from home and makes him find his way home by himself. Come on, ya cry baby.
But what’s really going on is Lance is trying to break him down and take the number one spot. Eight Tour wins, the comeback of all comebacks. I can see the thing unfolding now. 10k to go on Tour mountain stage, an uphill finish. Having worn down Contador’s confidence, Lance finds himself up the road, a podium position waiting. Does anyone honestly think he’s going to listen when Johan Bruyneel comes on his radio ear piece and says wait for Alberto. Not going to happen — Johan doesn’t even ask. He knows Lance has already taken off.
Great champions aren’t always the nicest people. They don’t let anyone or anything get in their way, especially team-mates. Lance is famous for his competitiveness and will-power. He’s going to use every edge he can get. If I were Contador, I’d be dialing Greg Lemond for some perspective and strategy. I’m betting Greg would take that call, collect, and happily.