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Contador on the Armstrong Comeback: "Seriously difficult" to share a team

Alberto Contador paid a visit to the Spanish sports journal AS, Monday, a day after completing his historic triple, winning all three grand tours in the space of a year. There, he gave a lengthy interview and discusssed his views of the just-completed Vuelta and the possibility of sharing a team with the returning Lance Armstrong. The editors at AS described the Spanish grand tour champion as "affable" and "unaffected."

Summary and translation on the flip. Or, read the complete Spanish-language interview.

The interview begins with a discussion of the team dynamics between Contador and Leipheimer during the Vuelta a España. "Speaking frankly, did Leipheimer ride for you or did he ride in his own interests?" asked the interviewer. "I will only say that it is not normal that a worker finishes less than a minute from you. If Navacerrada had lasted 20 kilometers more, I do not know what would have happened," answered Contador.

The Vuelta winner emphasized the importance of the time bonuses, saying that without them, it would have been "a different race." Contador allowed that Leipheimer had helped him some on the Angliru: "He pulled a little, but Valverde attacked very early and I allowed him to drop off." On the Fuentes de Invierno, "it was a delicate situation," said Contador. If he had escaped with only Mosquera for company, Contador would have allowed Mosquera the stage win. Because of the close race with his team-mate, who was also in the break, the time bonus was "important." Asked who was the greater wheelsucker (¿Quién es más chuparruedas, Leipheimer o Evans?), Leipheimer or Evans, Contador smiled, "Uff. Mmm. The truth, I would not know how to decide...." (Uff. Mmm. La verdad, no lo sabría decir... (sonríe).)

The interview then turned to Contador's feelings about the Vuelta. The Vuelta felt like "a homage" and he was inspired by all the people, many of them from his home town. When asked whether the Angliru should always be in the Vuelta, Contador said no, because it would lost some of its mythical quality. "It’s a special mountain, but any rider with adequate conditioning can climb it. There are others that are more difficult, like the Motirolo," he explained. "Where do you suffer the most, in an hour of the crono or an hour in the mountains?" Definitely the crono, according to Contador, and he said that the necessity of "maintaining the aerodynamic position" until the finish makes the crono harder on the body than the high mountains.

Turning at last to the question of next year's Tour and the Armstrong Comeback, the interviewer asked for Contador's views on the likely departure of Patrice Clerc, president of the ASO. No comment. Contador dismissed the rumor that Armstrong might buy the ASO as "absurd." "The ASO does not only organize the Tour, but also it holds, among other things, the Dakar Rally," remarked Contador. "I do not believe that the ASO would be for sale," he said.

Sharing a team with Armstrong would be "seriously difficult," says Contador. "I believe that I have won the right to ride as a team leader, without having to win the post," he asserted. With Armstrong it could produce a difficult situation, because Armstrong would want the team to ride for him, at my expense, he explained. All the same, Contador said, "it is my intention to ride out my contract until 2010" with Astana, though he admitted that he had received good offers from other teams. Can Armstrong win the Tour? "It would be very difficult, but not impossible," believes the 2007 Tour winner.

As for his own plans for the coming year, Contador intends to ride only the Tour de France next year. It is "very complicated" to contest more than one grand tour in a year, he said. He rates Andy Schleck, Carlos Sastre, Cadel Evans, and perhaps also Robert Gesink as his future rivals. He described Igor Anton as "a pure climber." Laughing, Contador said that he could not discount Leipheimer either, as he "has experience in disputing the grand tours." He agreed that holding concentration for three weeks was difficult, a problem that appears to plague Alejandro Valverde.

In closing, Contador declared his intention to ride the Worlds without pressure and to aid his team-mates. He described the experience of the Olympic Games as "stupendous." And confirmed once again, that yes, he did interrupt his vacation to ride the Giro. And no, he has not been to Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan.

Interview by J. Trueba, Translation mine.

Original Spanish text: