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Vuelta winner Contador uneasy about Armstrong return

Text by AFP

Latest update : 2008-12-10

Spanish Astana leader Alberto Contador has cast doubt over the return of US cycling star Lance Armstrong as teammate, suggesting he would feel uneasy about challenging the seven-time Tour winner for the leader's position.

Alberto Contador, who won the Tour of Spain on Sunday, hinted he may quit the Astana team if it hires Lance Armstrong, who has announced he is coming out of retirement to seek a record eighth Tour de France title.

The Spaniard was asked by the sports newspaper AS how he would feel if the American joins Astana.

"It would be quite complicated. I think I've earned the right to be the leader of a team without having to fight for it," he said in the interview published Tuesday.

"And with Armstrong, there could be difficult situations in which the team would put him first and that would harm me."

The 37-year-old Armstrong rocked the world of cycling earlier this month by confirming that he was planning an audacious comeback with a view to winning a record eighth Tour de France next summer.

Astana boss Joahn Bruyneel, who managed Armstrong as director of the US Postal and Discovery Channel teams, said recently he would "not allow" the American to join another team.

But Contador said he may quit the Kazakh-backed, Luxembourg-based team if it hires the American, who is to give a press conference on Thursday at which he is to announce his plans.

"I will base my decision on what he says," the Spaniard said. "I intend to stay because I am under contract until 2010, but I have received a good many offers from other teams.

"Bruyneel believes I can deliver results, but it can't be denied that he made his name because of his ties to Armstrong."

Contador won the Tour of Spain on Sunday to add his victories in the 2007 Tour de France winner and this year's Giro d'Italia.

He is now only the fifth rider in history, and the first ever Spaniard, to win all three of cycling's three-week Tours.

His comments to AS contrast with those he made immediately after Armstrong's announcement.

"I would welcome (Armstrong) into the team with open arms because a cyclist like him would fit in anywhere," Contador said on September 10.

"I have always had the highest regard for him and would be delighted to be in the same team as him."

Date created : 2008-09-23