13 Jul 2009

Armstrong admits tension between himself and Contador

6:45 pm on 13 July 2009

Lance Armstrong's finally admitted that tension exists in his Astana team as both he and Spanish teammate Alberto Contador bid to win the Tour de France.

Armstrong finished the ninth stage still only eight seconds off the leading pace of Rinaldo Nocentini, an Italian rider, who's not considered a yellow jersey contender.

Contador, the 2007 champion who started as the yellow jersey favourite, was second overall only six seconds off the pace.

As their rivals look for ways to close deficits incurred in the first week, it seems the real battle for supremacy is taking place in one team.

Speculation has been rife since Armstrong joined Astana last year that he and Contador would end up duelling each other, and not their rivals, for the yellow jersey.

And although Astana have so far tried to play down talk of tension, Armstrong's admitted there is tension.

Cancer-survivor Armstrong won the race a record seven times in succession between 1999-2005 and is returning to the Tour after ending a threee-and-a-half-year retirement.

Armstrong says if the 26-year-old Contador, who last year won the Tour of Italy and the Tour of Spain, proved his worth he would accept having to play second fiddle in the team.

However, the 37-year-old, who has not ruled out a return to the Tour de France in 2010, has shown little evidence of only wanting to support Contador.

Armstrong says a tough next six days will show who deserves to be given the team's full support.