To the shock of absolutely no one, Alberto Contador officially dislikes Lance Armstrong.
Speaking with the Spanish media in Madrid, Contador announced that Armstrong is a great rider but on a personal level “I have never had great admiration for him and I never will.” That is the sound of gloves coming off.
Now that the Tour de France is over, the post-tour recriminations are in full swing. Contador went on to say that “the situation was tense and delicate because the relationship between myself and Lance extended to the rest of the staff. On this Tour, the days in the hotel were harder than the those on the road.” He’s not talking about lumpy beds, poor room service and no mints under the pillow, either.
Look for Mr. Armstrong to tweet some counter-punches and then unleash his PR machine on the Spanish rider. While Spain may provide a sympathetic audience for Contador, it’s difficult to win a popularity contest against a man who’s raised $250 million for caner research.
The tension between the two giants of cycling was both understandable and predictable. Johan Bruyneel did a masterful job, for the most part, of keeping the squabbles in house. Astana rode a strong tour, placing Contador in yellow and Armstrong in third. But with both men going to different teams, there’s no reason to make nice.
The winner of the 2009 Tour summed it up this way: “My relationship with Lance Armstrong is zero.” It’s over 11 months to the next Tour de France but the war has already begun.